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I’m taking part in the Starlight Hike in memory of my mum, says Duncan Willoughby

All Areas > Sport > Walking

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 10th October 2018, 15:10

Duncan Willoughby Duncan Willoughby

Hundreds of walkers are preparing for this year’s Starlight Hike in 10 days’ time.

They will be taking part in a 10k night time walk through Cheltenham to raise funds for Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice.

Among those lacing up their walking shoes will be Duncan Willoughby, an enterprise coordinator for GFirst LEP, based at the Growth Hub in the University of Gloucestershire.

“I’m walking under the stars in memory of my mum and to raise vital funds for the only hospice with an inpatient unit in Gloucestershire,” said Duncan.

The 45-year-old will be joined by work colleagues as they take on the walk as a team of five alongside hundreds of other walkers from right across the county in support of the Gloucestershire hospice.

And Duncan wants to share his story about why he is taking on Starlight Hike, to encourage more people to sign up and support the hospice who helped care for his mum.

He said: “My mum’s name was Denise Elizabeth Rosemary Willoughby, and when she died, on a very stormy night in October 2013, she was a month short of her 63rd birthday.

“I will never forget the way one of the nurses held Mum’s hand hours before she died, and how in that one touch he transferred such peace to my mum. It was miraculous.

“Mum had been fighting small cell lung cancer for almost six months and had struggled with the pain caused by the cancer. The storm seemed to mimic her own struggle with life in those final hours.”

“It is difficult to put into words what the hospice means to me. I was a community fundraiser at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice for seven years and have joined many of the hikes helping to organise the event, putting out direction signs and welcoming walkers.

“It’s a starry night with atmosphere and it always evokes a range of emotions – hope, remembrance, excitement, fun.

“This year will be the fifth anniversary since I lost Mum, and this time I will be joining walkers on their journey around Cheltenham, so it will be a very different experience for me.

“The hospice is a place we never choose willingly to go to, but when faced with the realities of end of life, it couldn’t be a better place to be other than at home. It is clichéd to say that the staff are angels, but they are the closest thing on earth to it.”

Last year Starlight Hike saw 523 walkers take to the streets of Cheltenham raising over £60,000 for the hospice charity – the most raised ever. This year the charity hopes to smash this target to help fund its expert and compassionate palliative care, but needs more people like Duncan and his colleagues to join them.

For more information and to sign up, visit www.sueryder.org/leckhamptonslh before online registration closes at midnight on Monday 15th October.

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