The girls take over the town to support hospice

St Nicholas Hospice Care, Girls Night Out

St Nicholas Hospice Care, Girls Night Out

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IT looked as if Christmas had come early to Angel Hill as 1,400 flashing bunny ears lit up the square.

They brought a celebratory feel to the serious business of raising money for St Nicholas Hospice Care, which is exactly what Jenny Baskett, the charity’s events organiser, wanted for Saturday’s annual Girls’ Night Out walk.

“It’s a celebratory walk where people can celebrate the memory of someone,” she said. “We do get tears but we have people from the hospice who have quiet words.”

This year they raised a record £110,000, which was £20,000 more than last year. The hospice needs £10,000 a day.

Most were there because cancer had taken someone dear, including Anglia Tonight presenter Becky Jago, whose mother died from cancer. “I’ve only been here half an hour and I’ve been close to tears twice,” she said. “There’s a memory board and I wrote a message for my mum, that made me cry.

“I also spoke to a lady who’s having chemo so she can’t do it herself, but she came to support others.”

Vicki Cox, from Red Lodge, had the support of five walking friends. It was her third Girls’ Night Out, having started them because her mother Jean Cross was treated at the Bury hospice before she died six years ago. But this year’s was even more poignant because her father David Cross died there only six weeks ago. Her team comprised her best friend Carol Bugg, sister-in-law Nicki Morton, colleague Mandy Quirke, and two of Mandy’s friends Amanda Ritchie and Sharon Leonard whose nans had been cared for at the hospice.

Maria Rabey, who works for Suffolk Mental Health Partnership walked in memory of her friend consultant psychiatrist Dr Mary Hedley, who died at the hospice. Walking with her was Susan Stirling who said: “I work for the Grove surgery in Thetford so I know what the St Nicholas Hospice does.”

Hospice chief executive Barbara Gale has been to the event before but this year decided to walk as well, with her daughter Kathryn and hospice mascot Isiah.

Barbara said: “Every year its been bigger and it’s not just the people walking but the supporters who come out on the streets as they go round.”