It seems not even a global pandemic is capable of stopping Rowcroft’s annual Sleep Walk - the charity’s all-female fundraising event where ladies and girls sparkle like the stars as they step out onto South Devon’s streets in a sponsored walk to raise vital funds to care for local people with life-limiting illnesses.

Sleep Walker Sophie GreenSleep Walker Sophie Green

This year, Rowcroft was unable to hold its usual mass participation event due to government restrictions, so instead the charity set up ‘The Sleep Walk — Your Way’, where participants walked for five or ten miles at any time that suited them over the course of the week starting Saturday, July 4, to Friday, July 10.

Abiding by social distancing guidelines and taking any route of their choice, more than 700 Sleep Walkers took part, walking with friends or family, many in pyjamas or fancy dress.

With sponsorship money still coming in, it is hoped that the event will raise more than £41,000 for the hospice.

Sponsored this year by Kitsons Solicitors, The Sleep Walk is Rowcroft’s flagship fundraising event, raising essential income to care for patients in their own homes across South Devon, and in Rowcroft’s Inpatient Unit in Torquay. This year marks an incredible ten years of Rowcroft’s Sleep Walk.

Helen ChessumHelen Chessum

Sleep Walker Karen Wilson, from Teignmouth, said: “Last year our little family was so grateful for the care and support my darling sister Dena received in her final months through Rowcroft’s community team and especially her final hours through the Hospice at Home service. 

“I was devastated by her death in March 2019, but wanted to support Rowcroft in helping more families like ours to be able to spend precious time together, knowing loved ones’ needs are being met so well.

“At one point it looked as if it might not happen and I was really disappointed. I knew how important fundraising was to make sure the hospice could continue their work. Charities have been so hard hit through this pandemic with not being able to have their shops open or hold fundraising events, yet their needs are still there.

“Out of intense sadness and loss has come much comfort from the sense of giving back to Rowcroft, which had given us everything we needed at the time we needed it the most.”

Sylvie SvendsonSylvie Svendson

Helen Chessum, from Newton Abbot, said: “I was walking in memory of my very lovely friend, Morag. I was so impressed with the Rowcroft team who nursed her at home in the last weeks of her life with her family and friends around.

“We collected donations for Rowcroft at her funeral where our choir sang her favourite gospel song in her memory. The care and kindness I saw from Rowcroft staff moved me to start a regular monthly donation to the hospice.

“My friends and I are not big event people but we are regular walkers so this year’s concept of Sleep Walk - Your Way just appealed to us.  

“Plus we were all very aware how financially pressed Rowcroft was due to the Covid-19 situation. We wanted to do our bit and were able to go out in a small group of friends in our own time, with no hassle and choose our own route - perfect for us! We did join in the spirit by getting into our jim-jams and dressing-gowns. I would certainly do it again next year.”

Anglea Walker during her Sleep WalkAnglea Walker during her Sleep Walk

Alexia Croft, Rowcroft events manager, gave a special thank you to all the participants and volunteers who made the Sleepwalk possible.

She said: “We are so touched by the amazing passion and determination of our amazing Sleep Walk ladies.

“Rowcroft relies on the vital funds raised by the community to deliver the care our heroic healthcare teams provide across 300 square miles every day of the year. Thank you for helping us make every day the best day possible for thousands of people living with life-limiting illnesses.”

Mark Hawkins, Rowcroft’s chief executive officer, said: “I want to say a huge thank you to all the ladies and girls who have walked five or ten miles as part of our flagship Sleep Walk event. Although it has been a little different this year, we have been delighted to see so many of you getting involved.

Michelle Caunter on her Sleep WalkMichelle Caunter on her Sleep Walk

“It is our tenth anniversary and you did make it one to remember. There’s also been lots of sparkles, feather boas, flowers and rainbows and we’ve had some wonderful costumes. I’m so proud of the Rowcroft community. It is only with your support we can continue to provide the best possible care through such difficult and unprecedented times.”