Kirkwood Hospice’s Midnight Memory Walk has smashed all its fundraising records.
More than 1,200 people from across Kirklees and beyond who put on their walking boots to pledge a record-breaking £117,124 for the hospice.
The annual event, sponsored by Syngenta and now in its 12th year, brings the community together for a special night of celebration and remembrance with people walking either a six or a 10-mile route.
As well as raising vital funds for Kirkwood, for many walkers the walk - which started and finished at the University of Huddersfield - is an important way to remember loved ones who have died and to pay tribute to their lives.
Kirkwood Events Organiser Kathryn Box said: “With 1,265 walkers it’s one of the biggest ever turnouts for the walk. This year the amount pledged has broken records and the atmosphere has been amazing. So many people have been sharing stories about loved ones.
“I want to say a huge thank you to every single person that has walked tonight. It’s been a record breaking night in all sorts of ways for Kirkwood and their support will help us to continue providing the very best care and support for anyone affected by a life limiting illness in Kirklees.
“No other event brings so many people together to remember special people in our lives in the same way.”
Katie Howbridge from Dalton first took part in the Midnight Memory walk eight years ago and has now completed her fifth walk all for her son, Tadeusz.
“My son is living with a disability and his positivity is what made me realise that I could do the walk,” she said. “One day we met a little boy with cancer who was also in a wheelchair and spoke to my son. Every year since then, Tadeusz has asked me to take part in the walk for people with life-limiting conditions.
“Every year he expects me at the front of the crowd so he can spot me. He’s such a positive little boy and he gives me so much inspiration. There are so many people here tonight with inspirational stories of loved ones and that’s why I do it. It’s such a lovely cause and event to support.”
For the Woodhouse family from Huddersfield this year’s Midnight Memory Walk was special as they took part for their first year, walking in memory of Linda Woodhouse.
Linda’s husband, John, said: “A group of 15 friends and family are walking tonight in memory of Linda, including her three children, Harry, Nell and Fred.
“Linda passed away at Kirkwood Hospice on February 1 this year and we’re here tonight to give something back. Linda was so well cared for at Kirkwood. She felt comfortable there, she was as happy as she could be and we were comfortable too.
“We wanted to walk tonight to give something back to the next person. We’ve raised about £1,300 to date on the JustGiving page but we’re hoping to come again next year and make it an annual affair.”
Nigel and Samuel Lockwood from Moldgreen were also thinking about someone special at this year’s event.
“We’re here to raise as much money as possible for a fantastic cause,” they said. “We’ve lost so many friends and family at Kirkwood, including Sam’s nana, Flo Crooks. We’re walking in memory of Flo and everybody else loved and lost.”
The atmosphere reached fever pitch as the clock ticked towards midnight and the crowd swelled.
Glow dancers whirled their way through a sea of electric blue as the crowd were treated to a pitch perfect performance from musician, Max Restaino, and high energy entertainment from Rosie Madison and the Pulse Radio team.
As chimes called out the midnight hour, enormous confetti cannons shook the still night air, sending a stream of tickertape fluttering back toward the sea of electric blue which poured through an illuminated archway and out into the early morning air.