Just hours after the tragic events in London, a record number of warm-hearted walkers defiantly came out in force on Sunday 4 June to raise vital funds for Shooting Star Chase’s bereaved families at our flagship event, the Sunrise Walk – raising £68,000 and counting.

A total of 413 walkers arrived at Ham House in Richmond at 3.30am to raise money for those coping with the devastating loss of a child, which is double (49%) the number of particpants from 2016. The dedicated challengers took on a 10km or 20km route through some of the area’s most stunning sights, including Richmond Park, Richmond Hill, The Thames, Ham Common, Bushy Park and Hampton Court Palace.

Before the walk, participants remembered loved ones by hanging decorated lanterns on a Celebration Tree to light the start line – and observed a minute’s silence to pay tribute to Shooting Star Chase’s bereaved families, as well as the victims of the terrorist attack, which took place 11 miles away just a few hours earlier. Participants also heard from bereaved mum, Stephanie Nimmo, who signed up for the Sunrise Walk with her daughter, Xanthe. Stephanie said:

“My little girl, Daisy, was referred to Shooting Star Chase when she was only a few months old in 2005 because she was life-limited and had a rare condition. At that time we didn’t know how long we’d have Daisy for; the doctors didn’t even know if she’d make her first Christmas. But the hospice promised us from that day they’d be with us every step of the way.

“Daisy sadly passed away in January 2017 when she was 12 and Shooting Star Chase have been true to their word. We were supported by Christopher’s in Guildford and Shooting Star House in Hampton for the whole of Daisy’s life and they’ve been a huge part of our lives. And since Daisy died, they’ve continued to care for us as a family as we work out through grief.

“Thank you to everyone for coming out today and for raising money for Shooting Star Chase, so bereaved families like mine can get the support they need.  I know how vital these funds are and how they’re spent – and without the hospice we wouldn’t have been able to have twelve incredible years and beautiful memories with Daisy.”

After the walk – which took between 1.5 hours and 5 hours, participants celebrated their achievements at a post-walk picnic in the sun with their family and friends, where they received a commemorative medal, enjoyed a hot breakfast, played lawn games and shopped at stalls selling local produce.

Supported mum, Kerry Rogers – whose 12-year-old son, Macauley, has respiratory problems and a gastrostomy – took on the 20k route of the Sunrise Walk with her friend Claire and said:

“We did the Sunrise Walk for Macauley, and all the other children supported by Shooting Star Chase. The charity’s hospice in Hampton have done so much for my family, and for Macauely since he was 5 months old – I don’t know where we’d be without them. We just want to give back every time we can, which is why we signed up for the Sunrise Walk.

“It’s a bit daunting having to get up at silly o’clock and be here for 3.45am, but it’s well worth it. We loved the walk, the atmosphere is amazing and the staff are just great too. This is my second year doing it and I can’t see me stopping now. We are Sunrise Walkers now! If you don’t run, walking is a perfect thing for you to do, so sign up next year.”

Kate Law, Challenge Events Fundraiser at Shooting Star Chase, organised the Sunrise Walk and said:

“The Sunrise Walk is now in its fifth year and it has been amazing to see more people than ever take part to raise vital funds for bereaved families like Stephanie’s,  who need Shooting Star Chase’s support.

“We are so very grateful to all our participants who got up in the early hours and walked long distances, and to all those who donated and showed their support. Thanks too to all our amazing volunteers who are always so dedicated, and give up their time to help set up the event, marshal and cheer on our walkers.

“In this current financial climate it’s becoming increasingly challenging to raise funds so we can continue providing our service, but we hope to exceed our Sunrise Walk fundraising target of £60,000 – which will really help Shooting Star Chase care for families in London and Surrey coping with the truly unimaginable.”

Fancy taking part in next year’s Sunrise Walk? Sign up to enews and find out when Sunrise Walk 2018 registration is open!