Walking the Walk: Why One Gravesend Couple Will Be Taking to The Streets for a Good Cause This September
Here’s a quick riddle for you…what’s orange, has a pair of bunny ears, and can be seen illuminating Gravesend’s streets in great numbers come September?
Chances are, it’s one of the participants of our annual Twilight Walk, which – after a brief spell as a virtual event in 2020 – is returning in full force to flood Kent’s streets this year on September 24th, 2021.
A flagship event in the local calendar, the Twilight Walk (now in its 12th year) invites people to come together to walk either an 8km or 12km route to raise funds and awareness for our charity –we are the only Kent and Bexley-based hospice to care for patients of all ages, and their families.
We are a charity which supports patients with life-limiting illnesses both at home, and from within our Northfleet-based inpatient and outpatient wards. With a commitment to personalised, holistic care, we support not only the patient, but also their family; offering care that goes beyond the clinical, and incorporates a range of wellbeing services.
Starting and finishing at the Gravesend Cyclopark, the walk helps raise vital funds for – and awareness of – our cause, while celebrating the tireless work of its staff and volunteers. From an individual standpoint, the Twilight Walk also helps participants show support for a family member living with a life-limiting condition, honour the memory of a passed loved one, or simply get some decent exercise – and have fun while doing so!
“We’re immensely grateful to everyone that participates in our annual Twilight Walk,” says Melissa Bourne, our Supporter Engagement Officer.
“The entry fee – and any money you can raise leading up to it – goes such a long way to helping us continue to support life-limited patients and their families in the local community. It’s also such a fun, inclusive event, and serves as an amazing expression of community strength and solidarity. We can’t wait to see everyone again at the Cyclopark this September!”
For locals Steve and Tracey Crow, this year’s event will be the married couple’s third Twilight Walk. Both have profoundly personal reasons for supporting our charity. In 2012, Steve’s previous wife passed away under our care, while – just a year later – Tracey’s mother did the same, also after a brave battle with cancer.
“Honestly, the way ellenor handled things was amazing”, Tracey says. “For us as a family, and for Mum. They were right with her all the way through, coming round once or twice a week. You didn’t feel alone with them. But they also treated my Mum as a person – they didn’t just talk to us, and ignore her – because it was still my Mum’s decision, and my Mum’s life. ellenor made it about her choices; what she wanted.”
They treat the family, as well as the person that’s ill. The way she passed away was so peaceful. They made it lovely – we couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
“ellenor are there 24/7”, Steve adds, “in case you’re worried, or have something on your mind. It’s the best care anyone could want, really – I couldn’t fault them.”
Swanscombe-born Steve works in construction, and has been touched at how many of his colleagues have put their hands in their pockets to support his Twilight Walk fundraising.
“It does make you feel quite pleased, and proud. When the Twilight Walk comes around, I hope I’m on a busy job with lots of employees, because the lads are really generous.”
Tracey, meanwhile – whose ladies’ clothes shop, ‘For Girlys’, has just celebrated its 25th anniversary – has been thinking outside the box to raise money for us. Taking advantage of a recently-imposed 10p carrier bag charge for all businesses, Tracey’s using a new, sequin-studded money box to collect the fee – and is donating it all to ellenor.
“I worked out that if I have ten customers a day, and it’s 10p per customer, that’s a pound every day. I’m open six days a week; so over the course of a year, that’s £312 raised for ellenor!”
Tracey has been involved with ellenor for some years already – by donating to their raffles But it’s the fun, festival-like mood of the Twilight Walk that gets the couple most excited.
“It was so well organised”, Steve reminisces. “Going through the starting line, everyone’s cheering and dancing, there was a DJ… it was a really good atmosphere. People were out of their houses, clapping and urging you on.”
Even the local businesses turned up, with a Tesco station providing bottled water along the route, and a local chippy handing out small portions of chips to the Twilight Walk’s peckish participants. Choc Ices were also dished out, and there was hot chocolate available at the start and finish lines – along with medals, of course!
“We’re quite proud of our medals”, Steve beams. “The Twilight Walk is really enjoyable. We want to do it every year, and keep promoting it. Considering everyone was wearing in memoriam T-shirts dedicating the walk to their family members, it wasn’t sad. It felt like more of a celebration.”
The Twilight Walk – which, in 2019, boasted a staggering 1,176 attendees – is fast becoming a staple in the Gravesend diary. However, both Steve and Tracey believe that more awareness around ellenor's vital work is needed.
“They are for the community”, says Steve. “I think that – unfortunately, with the way things are with cancer and life-limiting illnesses – ellenor will touch everyone’s lives at some stage, so they’re massively important. A lot of people don’t realise what ellenor does until they’ve had something traumatic happen in their life. I didn’t realise how helpful ellenor were until I needed them.”
“I think a lot of people have got a lot of time for ellenor”, Tracey adds, “but maybe they need reminding that they still have to help it, to keep it there.”
Steve also has a message for the male supporters out there –particularly those harbouring any qualms about donning a pair of flashing ‘head boppers’, or dressing a bit differently for the day.
“Get your bunny ears on and get out there! There’s such a macho image with fellas, and I think blokes need to be a bit more open, and not afraid to show their feminine side and emotions. You’ve got to push your boundaries a bit, and you will have a laugh. You get out there, and it’s a good craic. There’s a great atmosphere, and it’s all for a good cause.”
Adult prices for the Twilight Walk start from just £17.50, and include a T-shirt and medal. Free Early Bird places for under-16s are available until the 30th of June, so book soon to avoid disappointment.