The four of us, Leonie, Louise, Rose and I set off to the hospital. I had been excited all day for the walk, and half way to the hospital I suddenly realised that in my excitement I had forgotten my Chemo medication, after a quick trip home I was fully medicated. We arrived at Preston Hospital for the Rosemere Walk in the Dark and met up with our fellow walkers, as we were waiting for the bus to leave, the heavens opened and we were soaked. I was hoping that the rain wouldn't continue all night, and during the bus ride to Chorley, the clouds passed and the evening once again became pleasant.
At Chorley there were hundreds of people, some dressed as various characters, others in high-vis, more with glo-stix and other garish colours. We gathered together for the briefing and then set off en-masse. The first bit was a free for all, but I had promised Leonie that I would walk with her for the route. Initially I walked with Rose Bee, a six year old girl who was attempting to scooter the 11 miles. She was so full of energy and although I kept a steady pace, she asked about half a mile into the challenge how much further there was to go!
From the start our group became separated, some of the younger, fitter walkers (Lisa Mcloughlin) were heading out at speed, others hot on their heels (Ray & Dawn Motts, David O'Keeffe). Some kept a steady pace (Linda Mullen, Ian Jones, Wes Davies and Vanessa Davison). Our group, Leonie, Rose and Louise Bee, John Farnden, Janet and Lisa Thomas, Rob Smith, Karyn Lee, Stuart Beaveridge, Luke Gibbon, and I stayed near the back, out of trouble. After a while, Leonie and I decided to catch up to the other guys, so we jogged about half a mile. Once we caught them up we walked for a while and then decided to drop back to check up on everyone. It was good to add a bit a pace for a while.
Once everyone had caught up, our group became smaller. Karyn had gotten some serious blisters on both feet and was beginning to struggle. Luckily Luke and Stuart walked with her and kept her upbeat! We continued onwards and the night skies were filled with the glow from the hundreds of glo-stix that were adorned about our bodies. At about half way, our group stopped for a drink at a pit stop. By the time we were finished and ready to go, Karyn's team was arriving, but rather than rest up, Karyn, Stuart and Luke all continued on and you could see the determination on their faces. It's these actions that continued throughout the night, which made me proud.
In Bamber Bridge, the route took us downhill to the Ribble. As the hill was in our favour, both myself and Rose had a downhill race, Rose on her scooter and me running. Rose was having fun, and that's the important part of these events. We crossed the river and knew it wasn't far to go from here, although we had to climb up London Road Hill with tiring legs. Rose found this difficult, so between Rob Smith and me, we took it in turns to give Rose a piggy back up the hill, but this was the only time that Rose was supported throughout the entire 11 mile distance (quite an achievement for a 6 year old).
With less than a mile to go we met Karyn, Luke and Stuart again. From Karyn's face you could tell that she was in pain, but her grit and determination was strong, and she was going to complete the challenge. On one of the final corners of the route, my cousin, Helen and her daughter Jade were waiting to cheer us on. They had been stood outside waiting for well over an hour; just to give us a wave and a cheer. It was good to see a familiar face.
At last we had reached our destination, and it was welcome; it had taken a little over 4 hours. We collected our certificates and had a well earned sit down. A short while later Karyn, Stuart and Luke arrived and I presented Karyn with her certificate before putting her slippers on for her, she had done fantastically well. Some of our group had a bacon barm while others grabbed a hot drink before making our way to our beds.
The overall event had shown me that with a little encouragement, people can achieve something they thought wasn't possible or what they thought was beyond them. From the young to the old, from healthy to unwell, everyone is capable of achieving something great. The amount of support, generosity and determination shone through on the night and everyone added to the event. I spoke to a fair few people during the night and I feel lucky to have met some really nice people, all with a story to tell.
As I write this we have collected close to £2500 and we are waiting on a few more donations, that is a fantastic outcome. I feel so proud of everyone, and of all the people who took part, they all said that they would do it again. Bloody awesome! Well done EVERYONE!