I would normally delete an out of focus or pixellated photograph like this one but I am sharing it because of the story behind it.
This is what anyone driving past Stoke Mandeville Hospital at about half past midnight last Sunday morning would have seen. About 500 ladies in pink tee-shirts most of them with flashing bunny ears on their heads. Had they been driving through Aylesbury at three or four in the morning they would have seen a similar sight but with people much more spread out. If I remember correctly you are not supposed to sound your horn after 10pm but quite a few drivers tooted encouragement and I am sure no-one minded.
What was happening? It was a midnight walk in aid of the Florence Nightingale Hospice. Liz and I had volunteered to act as marshals for this years walk. We turned up for a briefing at 10pm. The route was described to us and marshal points spelled out. We were given two points almost within sight of each other just along the road from the hospital and then once the last walker had passed us (along with the marshal who was walking the route as a back marker) we then moved on to our second pair of marshal points nearer the town centre. While we had to be prepared for emergencies or walkers in trouble our main activity was to encourage the walkers and make sure they headed in the right direction. For them it was reassuring to see people in Hi-Viz jackets every hundred yards or so and to know that if needed help would be at hand.
I estimated that the first walkers would be with us just after half past twelve and this proved to be the case. I was greeted by one of the leading group and given a high five – it was my daughter in law’s step-sisters. I was slightly thrown by the first person who said “Good morning” since I hadn’t yet gone to bed – they were quite right of course and I soon got used to it. Then it was a never ending stream of pink until about one o’clock when the back marker came through and we moved on to the second point.
At our second marshalling point, which was just past the six mile point, walkers were coming through in dribs and drabs although there were still a few reasonably sized groups. Some were not walking quite as steadily as they had been earlier. Some would turn off a little way up the road and head to the finish having completed a bit over six miles while others would do a loop round the other side of Aylesbury and head home after 13 miles. As they passed many said “Thank you” and I thought “No, it’s Thank YOU – I have just been standing around in a Hi-Viz jacket smiling while you have walked six miles and raised money for the hospice.” From others I caught a snippet of conversation which sometimes made sense and occasionally I was able to reply to. I am fairly certain the request for a taxi was tongue in cheek as they headed off up the road after passing me.
Eventually the gaps got longer and finally at close to three o’clock the final pair of walkers and the back marker marshal came through and we could head home to bed.
Well done to all the walkers and also the Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity team who put so much effort into organising the event.