Thousands of Islanders have joined forces to Walk the Wight with Mountbatten, stepping out in support of those facing death, dying and bereavement (Sunday 13 May 2018).
This year’s iconic event was blessed with perfect weather and the flagship fundraiser highlighted once again the Island’s incredible sense of community in raising funds for Mountbatten to care for thousands of people each year across the Isle of Wight who are in the last years of life.
Figures so far show that over 8,000 men, women, children and dogs took part, with the numbers being boosted by those signing up on the day itself – thanks, no doubt, to the beautiful Spring weather.
Among those taking part was Sue Bunday, who was walking in memory of her “superhero” son Richard who died at Mountbatten Hospice earlier this year. He had walked the Wight every year from 2008, but was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2014. This didn’t stop him from taking part in the event dressed as Iron Man, just six weeks after surgery to have his stomach removed in 2016. On starting the walk from Carisbrooke, mum Sue said: “I’m nervous but excited, and I know Richard is with me all the way.”
Walking the entire route was Elaine Harris, whose father Bill Bradley was founder of Walk the Wight, along with colleague Frank Stevens. Elaine said: “It’s fantastic every year, the lump gets in my throat at some point, it’s just the most amazing feeling! Dad would have been blown away, just blow away by what’s happened to his little baby which has grown so huge and is so fantastic.”
Many chose to dress up for the occasion, including a group of three leprechauns, a man covered in balloons, children dressed as bumblebees and Mountbatten Nurses Jackie Whiller and Theresa Macnamara, and Mountbatten Healthcare Assistant Jane Tizard were appropriately dressed as sunflowers! The trio managed the whole 26.5 miles from Bembridge to Alum Bay.
The Schools Walk was particularly well supported, with nearly 2,000 children and their parents registered to walk from Freshwater Bay to Alum Bay. They were seen off by a host of well-known characters including Captain America, Aerial and several Minions. After a rousing countdown, the ribbon was cut by KissyPuppy’s Gemma Blamire and the crowds surged through the starting archway to the sounds of M People’s well-known hit ‘Proud’.
Participants of the eight-mile Flat Walk, were surprised to encounter a life-size cardboard cut out of Prince Harry and soon-to-be bride Meghan Markle placed along the route at Horringford, which elicited many smiles and selfies! There were many babies and toddlers taking part in the family-friendly route, as well as dogs sporting their - new for this year - Walk the Wight bandanas. The route was also popular with older walkers and those using wheelchairs and walking aids.
Jax Jones, Major Events Fundraiser and Walk the Wight organiser, said: “This year’s event couldn’t have gone better including the wonderful weather. I’ve seen nothing but sunshine and smiles today and it makes me feel very proud to be part of the community that makes this special event happen in support of Mountbatten. From our fundraising team to the organisations, businesses and voluntary groups involved – as well as the walkers themselves – all have once again come together to create an outstanding and inspiring day. Thank you.”
Nigel Hartley, Chief Executive, who for the third year walked the entire 26.5 miles said: “I am so proud of the whole Walk the Wight team and their exceptional organisation of the event, including all of the volunteers from many groups across the Island who helped and supported such an amazing day. We are very grateful that not only did nearly 8,000 people walked and raised money, but they also raised awareness of our outstanding cause and support of people facing death, dying and bereavement. Thank you also to all of you for your kind words of encouragement and support – both along the way and on Facebook and Twitter. You really spurred me and our Island community on!”