Every Step Remembering Loved Ones In Hospice Walk

A local charity’s first fundraising event in the community since before the pandemic has helped raise more than £10,000 for its free hospice care.

More than 250 people took part in the Havens to Havens Walk on Sunday 5th September, strolling from Little Havens in Thundersley to Fair Havens in Prittlewell and back again – a round trip of ten miles. Many walkers were taking part in memory of someone who had died, especially poignant following so much loss during the pandemic.

Taking in local sights such as Belfairs Woods, Prittle Book Greenway and Priory Park, participants enjoyed a well-deserved rest and refreshments at the half way point, before making their way back to collect their keepsake – a sustainable wooden coaster this year  instead of a medal as Havens Hospices commits to doing what it can to reduce its carbon footprint. Local art organisation Create98 – which sponsored the event – also offered free workshops to participants to produce a flag which they could carry during the walk, as the charity no longer uses balloons at its events. A card was also given out, designed by Ella Wright. Her twin brother, Noah, was cared for by Little Havens and sadly died in May 2020, aged four. His family took part in the event, too.

This year’s Havens to Havens Walk was special for many reasons. Not only is it the first mass participation event for the charity since 2019, it’s also the first time walkers have headed to the new Fair Havens in Prittlewell. The £17.2 million hospice opened in March 2020, just two weeks before the Covid lockdowns. Fair Havens stayed open throughout the pandemic, caring for patients and families both within the building and in people’s own homes.

Heather Hucker from Southend walked in memory of her father, Ron Clifton. He died in April, supported by the Fair Havens Hospice at Home Team. The 49 year old says, “The care they gave us made such a difference. They gave him his dignity back. We’re so grateful for all they support they gave Dad, and us too.”

It was an emotional return to Little Havens for Belinda Hamilton-Crisp. Her son, Jack Pitcher, spent time at Little Havens and died 15 years ago this month. Walking with her best friend, Louise Croney, Belinda says, “Coming back to Little Havens has been emotional, but we have so many lovely memories of Little Havens. Taking part in Havens to Havens is one of the best ways to remember Jack in a positive way.”

Whilst this year’s Havens to Havens walked to the new Fair Havens in Prittlewell, many families still remember the care they received at the previous building in Chalkwell. Bob Dowling was supported by Fair Havens before he died in July 2016. Daughter Wendy Bansor says, “Fair Havens looked after us as well as Dad. We knew he was getting the best care possible. He had six children, so we were all able to stay with him during his last few days, the room was always full of people. The Care Team kept us supplied with tea and toast. They were absolutley fantastic.”

Event Organiser Jane Hopkins says, “It was an emotional sight to see so many walkers at the start line, many who have taken part each year, but also new families who have experienced bereavement during the pandemic.

“Havens to Havens means so much to people. It’s a chance to bring families together to remember their loved one who has died and doing some positive in their memory.

“Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who took part. It was a lot of hard work to bring this event back, but we did everything we could to make walkers feel safe like reducing touchpoints during the registration period.”

The event was only made possible thanks to the support of dozens of volunteers, giving up their Sunday to serve cream teams and keep walkers safe along the route. Musician Charlie Edwards entertained people at the halfway point by playing piano.

Havens Hospices provides specialist palliative and supportive care through its hospice services Fair Havens, Little Havens and The J’s. This care takes place either in the hospices or in a person’s own home. The care is completely free of charge, thanks to the kindness and generosity of local people and businesses making donations or taking part in events like Havens to Havens.

To find out other ways to support Havens Hospices, visit www.havenshospices.org.uk or follow the charity on social media @HavensHospices

Published 6th September 2021

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