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Walking on sunshine!

22 September 2015


Bunny ears, tutus and even the old superhuman character or two – it was all part of the annual fun event that is the Walk for Wards to raise money for wards and departments at Southend University Hospital.

Cloudless skies and soaring late-summer temperatures ensured a record turn-out for the event, with more than 130 walkers, plus the odd dog, stepping out.

Sponsored by Radio Essex and Adventure Island, it offered participants two options - the 7km seafront stroll or an 18k Hadleigh Hike. View images from the event on the Southend Hospital Facebook page here.

The stroll, starting at Uncle Tom's Cabin, Shoebury, follows the seafront to Chalkwell shelter, while the more challenging hike continues through old Leigh, around Hadleigh Castle, returning to Chalkwell shelter.

Onlookers could be forgiven for doing at least a double take when triplets Oliver, Isabelle and Lewis Stanley marched by. Despite being only five, the trio from Rayleigh managed the whole course - with only the occasional piggyback from mum Jo! The family did the walk to say thank you for the care given to the youngsters following their birth.

Kim Dawson, from Westcliff, pictured with son Jack, two, was also walking for the hospital's Special Care baby Unit. "He was born eight weeks early and the unit was fantastic," she says.

This sentiment was echoed by the Brown family, who were also walking for the neonatal unit. Reece Jones, 13, was born eight weeks early, as was his step-sister Jasmine, now 15.  "We wanted to help," says Reece's dad Colin Wild-Jones.

The Oram family from Southend were out in force to support the 'wonderful care' they received from Elizabeth Loury cancer ward for dad Jerry, 67. Despite being in remission from the disease, he managed to walk the whole 7km with the help of daughters Victoria, 35 and Sarah, 34, along with Shearon (sic) Ashley, a family friend.

Meanwhile, there was no shortage of walkers prepared to dress up in fancy dress.

Colleagues Lisa Cockley, a manager at the Hood Group in Southend, her son Sam, six and her colleagues Adrian Lawrence (Spiderman) and Dan Jacks (Batman), all donned superhero costumes before stepping out.

The group has already raised more than £300 for the Neptune Unit to say thank you for the care nurses there gave to the son of another colleague.

"We really enjoyed the day - it was brilliant and everyone was really happy to cheer us on," says Spiderman Adrian, 21. "I was going to go on and do the Hadleigh Hike, but the costume was too hot for that."

"A big thank you to everyone who took part in our sponsored walk on Sunday," said Lucy Thomas-Clayton, associate director of fundraising.

"We had a fabulous turn out with over 130 people walking in support of wards at the hospital.  We are confident the event will raise even more than last year."

Walkers can name which hospital ward or department to support with their sponsorship - every penny will go to their chosen cause and all funds will be very gratefully received.

Last year's walk raised just over £8,000 and supported 31 different areas of the hospital.