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Streets lit with flashing bunny ears as 10th Girls Night Out takes over Bury St Edmunds

Thousands of women pulled on their pyjamas and wore flashing bunny ears to walk around Bury St Edmunds to raise an estimated £200,000 for charity last night.

The 2,000 walkers were taking part in the 10th Girls Night Out walk, in aid of St Nicholas Hospice Care.

Two routes around the town – 11.2 and six miles – were on offer, with many residents along the way coming out of their homes to offer sweets, refreshments and enthusiastic encouragement.

Jenny Smith, the hospice’s events manager, said: “It was an absolutely amazing night. Once again, everyone showed how much they care for the hospice.

“To see Angel Hill so full of bunny ears made me full of gratitude that so many people made so much effort. It is always emotional to see the walkers set off and to see such wonderful community spirit across the town.

“Every step they took and every penny they raised makes an incredible difference.

Melissa Claydon, of Bury, walked for the first time, in memory of her cousin Sophie Claydon, 25, who died in 2017.

"Sophie was looked after at the hospice, so I wanted to give a little back," she said.

Krystie Miles, of Thurston, joined Melissa and team-mates Natasha Klimowicz and Donna Crissall. She had previously walked Girls Night Out in year five and marshalled every since, before pulling her pyjamas on again this year.

"I'm looking forward to saying thank you to the marshals as we go round," said Krystie. "The atmosphere here is fantastic, but you can't do it without the marshals."

A team of staff from Baileys 2, in Whiting Street, had gathered under the team name Baileys 2 Crew to walk the six-mile route.

Susan Hickman said: "We did it last year and the atmosphere was amazing, and looking back and seeing all of the ears flashing was incredible."

The Barclays Babes team, made up of 23 staff from branches in Bury, Mildenhall, Brandon and Newmarket, said they were hoping to raise a good total with some team members receiving match funding from Barclays.

The Books and Booze team, with members based in Chedburgh and Chevington, intended to use the walk not just to raise funds but to discuss the latest read in their book club.

Sarah Hill said: "We meet up once every few months. This time we thought we would talk about a book while walking – we've read Eleanor Oliphant which was very good."

Marshal Janet Groom has volunteered at every Girls Night Out apart from one and was ready to give every walker a high five with her foam hand.

"I'm known as the 'high five lady'," she said.

Barbara Gale, hospice chief executive, said she 'couldn't believe' the incredible sight of seeing Angel Hill filled with bunny ears once again.

"Girls Night Out is amazing. The way people have taken it to their heart – the support of the community, the marshals, businesses and volunteers make it what it is," she said.

"And I have to say the hospice team work so hard. This takes so much organisation and once again it has been brilliant."

- Full report and pictures in Friday's Bury Free Press

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