Our Midnight Walk returns to Horsham on Saturday 8 June and as ever, will be supported by a fantastic team of volunteers who will be working through the night to make the event the best it can be. One of those volunteers is Chris, who has given his time to volunteer at the Midnight Walk for 10 years alongside his son, Adam. Here, Chris shares his story as to why he gives his time to St Catherine’s and his personal connection with the hospice:
“Our first connection with St Catherine’s was when my first wife, Katy, was having treatment for her breast cancer. She had undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy and unfortunately the cancer had returned a couple of years after we thought she was in remission. It was a big blow, especially as we had a young son, Adam, who was around 10 at the time. The cancer had spread to other parts of her body including her spine, brain and liver.
Katy had to have more treatment at Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford and decided that she would like some counselling from St Catherine’s to help her get through the trauma. St Catherine’s arranged home visits with one of their counsellors at the time who came over once a week. Katy found this a great help and we were all very grateful for the assistance it gave over the months that Andi came to see her.
Sadly Katy passed away in 2008 at the age of 42. This left myself and Adam, who was only 14 at the time.
A little while later, we heard about the Midnight Walk and the need for volunteers to help stewarding the event. We live in Horsham and know the area and streets really well, so we decided that we should pay back all the kindness and time that St Catherine’s had given to Katy, and all the other people who they help, so we offered to be stewards. How hard could it be? We thought, it’s such a small effort to stand on a street corner and help others to achieve their goals, in comparison to all the strength and will power needed to undergo cancer treatment, and to repay St Catherine’s.
So we first became stewards at the Midnight Walk in 2009, the year after Katy died. We found it a complete inspiration to encourage the walkers on, especially as we were the last stewards before the end of the walk. It was quite easy for us to say “Nearly there! Well done. Not far to go now!” or something equally jolly. We hope it was useful for them!
Over the later years, Adam and I were positioned at various points around Horsham. Sometimes we would start off in one point and move to others around the town to accommodate the different distances which the walkers would take part in.
It’s so easy to volunteer to be a steward.
You just need to stand there and offer encouragement to all the walkers; make sure they stay safe by keeping on the path or pavement, take care crossing the road, and make sure they go in the right direction. It’s all common sense really. It’s not rocket science!
We really need enough stewards to look after everyone safely, as it’s sometimes not easy to find your way in the dark, despite all the signage which is put up. Some people are not experts at reading maps or following directions, so the presence of a steward is really important and it’s such an easy thing to do.
As always I really wish all the walkers all the best of luck with this year’s Midnight Walk. Come on, join in, and raise loads of money for St Catherine’s Hospice!”
If you’d like to find out more about volunteering at this year’s Midnight Walk, email our Events team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01293 447355.