Proud pink parade pulls in the pounds

REVELLERS donned flashing pink bunny ears and matching bright t-shirts to pound the streets for a good cause.

The chill in the air could not dampen spirits as more than 850 men and women turned out for a midnight walk in aid of the Hospice of St Francis on Saturday.

The event - the fifth annual fundraising walk for the Berkhamsted-based charity - raised £125,000.

Hemel Hempstead’s Blue Watch firefighters took to the stage to help warm up the crowds as they prepared for five or 11-mile hikes.

Reporter David O’Neill spoke to some as they warmed up.

Adeyfield School teacher Bill Salkeld was walking in memory of his wife Peggy, who died from bowel cancer in December.

A group of 15 including her former colleagues from Herts County Council, where Peggy worked as an educational psychologist, took part.

Bill said: “None of us were expecting it to happen right to the end. She had put such a brave face on it all.

“It is very good to be walking – there is such an incredible atmosphere.”

The couple from Vicarage Lane, Bovingdon, were keen joggers.

Team Peggy have raised about £1,000.

Kat Read, 27, walked in memory of her mum Anne Anscomb, who died in June last year aged 54.

Malignant melanoma sufferer Anne spent the last the last two years of her life in and out of the hospice, and stayed there during the last six weeks of her life.

Kat said: “It is just an amazing place – so friendly. It felt like home.

“She was fun, sarcastic, tough and did not care what people thought of her. She just got on with her life and was an inspiration and my hero.

Kat, cousin Bex Milton and sisters-in-law Donner Holder and Sam McDonagh, have raised about £1,500 from their 11-mile walk.

Hilary Baker, 50, was walking in memory of husband Keith, who died from mesothelioma – which is caused by exposure to asbestos – on June 3 last year.

He had spent his last nine days in the hospice, who had helped his family for nine months before that.

Hilary, who still goes there every week for bereavement counselling, said: “He was vivacious, caring, very strong and did everything for everybody else and never said no.”

Keith died of the same thing his dad did, and Hilary thinks builder Keith may have caught it from wearing his overalls.

Keith, who lived in Deadman’s Ash Lane, Sarratt, also left behind children Anna, 20, and Luke, 15.

Hilary and a team of walkers raised more than £1,500 in sponsorship for the hospice.

For full pictures from the midnight walk, pick up a copy of this week’s Gazette, on sale now.