Join the Sparkle Walk for Ashgate Hospice

Sisters in law Joanne Gaynor and Marie Higginbottom
Sisters in law Joanne Gaynor and Marie Higginbottom
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Hundreds of women will be donning trainers and pink T-shirts to step out on the second Sparkle Night Walk for Ashgate Hospice this Saturday.

You just have time to sign up for this great cause as registration closes tomorrow (Wednesday, June 29).

Here, two of the participants share their motivation for taking part:

“You don’t think that you’re ever going to need to come here then someone in your family or a friend gets that diagnosis that you dread and you find yourself here, appreciating what a wonderful facility it is, right on our doorstep.”

Joanne Gaynor lives a minute away from Ashgate Hospice yet until a few months ago, she had never stepped through the door. She said: “I always thought I hope I never have to go in that place.”

All that changed when her beloved mum Maureen Higginbottom was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 75. Joanne said: “She came to the hospice for a drain on her tummy. At that point she had had her first lot of chemo at Weston Park. We knew what the outcome was going to be but we thought with her having the chemo and the drain, that it might give her an extra year.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the hospice - it was calming, tranquil, friendly and the staff were lovely.”

During her working life, Maureen was employed in the cash office at the Aquarius nightclub for 27 years where she paid star turns like the Three Degrees, Bobby Davro, The Krankies, Les Dennis and Dustin Gee.

Joanne said: “One of the nurses at the hospice, Gail, had worked at the Aquarius and said: ‘Your mum took me under her wing when I was 16 and nervous and now I’m looking after her.’

A fortnight after her admission to the hospice, Maureen passed away on November 30.

Joanne’s wish to help the hospice which cared for her mum coincided with her 50th birthday. She said: “My birthday was a bit of a life-affirming moment. I decided I wanted to do a charity run or walk so I roped in my family, school mums, work colleagues from Co-op Travel and all my old friends who remembered my mum working at the Aquarius.”

Fourteen of them will be stepping out in feather boas and bunny ears as Team Boobs and Bunions in the 10k Sparkle Night Walk for the hospice this Saturday.

Joanne, who lives on Heaton Street, Chesterfield, and has a 12-year-old son, is the oldest member of the team.

The Sparkle event will be her first sponsored walk and she has put in a bit of training. She said: “My partner, Robin Hallett, took me on a bus to Staveley and he said ‘Get off and walk home.’ It took us four and a half hours.”

Team Boobs and Bunions is aiming to attract £1,000 in sponsorship, getting a head start when Joanne raised nearly £500 through a raffle at her birthday party in April.

Joanne’s team-mate and sister-in-law Marie Higginbottom has two slipped discs in the top of her neck, two in the base of her spine, arthritis in her spine and her knees - yet she’s signed up for the 10k walk.

She said: “I won’t be doing any sprinting but I’m determined to do it, even if it takes me five hours to walk around.”

Marie’s health issues are a result of several car accidents years ago - but she won’t let pain get in the way of aiding the hospice. She said: “I’m doing the walk for a fantastic cause.”

Mortgage processor Marie, 39, will be walking in memory of her mother Jayne Unwin, of Lowgates, Staveley and her mother-in-law Maureen Higginbottom of Newbold.

Marie was 20 when she lost her mum. “She was diagnosed with breast cancer at 38 and passed away at 41 in 1996,” she said.

Her mum was in and out of Ashgate Hospice for two to three months before she died.

Nineteen years later, Marie, of Wordworth Road, Newbold, was back visiting her mother-in-law at the hospice. She said: “The same lady who cared for my mum was caring for my mother-in-law - I recognised her straight away.”