Moonlit Wander

A walk used to take place across Tameside in June at midnight and if you happened to be up then you would see a sea of ladies in pink; now only the pink remains as the walk begins at 9.30pm in May with women and men. There are so many ways to support charity through challenging yourself, running, walking and trekking. How much money has been raised is staggering, the Manchester 10k has raised over 22 million pounds since it began 12 years ago but it wasn’t the only 10k this weekend. The Willow Wood Moonlight Memories Walk was on the Friday evening and the rain had been falling heavily all afternoon. I arrived at Cheetham Park in Stalybridge to see a very soggy field filled with gazebos buckling under the downpour and a small group of volunteers who were wiping down the tables to no avail. As soon as a table was wiped down the wind blew more rain back in. As I crossed the grass I instantly regretted not wearing wellies. I didn’t think that walking alone would fulfil my volunteering quota for the week so I offered to volunteer before the walk and was put on the registration desk. Well one of them, because hundreds of fundraisers were expected. I was on the 1-100 tables ready to sign people in, take pledges and give out glowing bracelets. The first brave people arrived in little clusters of pink pulling out soaked sponsorship forms and showing me their crumpled numbers. They looked great and many had the good thinking to bring ponchos and wellies. The rain became so bad at times that the gazebos, which were in a row, occasionally had a flood down the middle to big screams from people inside. As the time got closer to the beginning hundreds of people were flooding the park. I suddenly had a massive queue and questions were being fired at me”Will it be cancelled?” “Do you have safety pins?” “Where can I get a poncho?” “When does it start?” “How long is it?” all answered while I fitted glow bracelets and desperately tried to stop the registration forms from disintegrating. Luckily, Dot came to my rescue and with her help and my months of volunteering experience we got the 1-100 walkers registered.

Dan, my fellow fundraiser, arrived and we put on our costumes. I had bought us pink superhero masks and told Dan he was ‘bat boy’. He asked me why he wasn’t ‘Bat Dan?’ “Alright that is better, ‘Bat Dan’ it is.” I wasn’t sure who I was but we went for ‘Super Croombs’ in the end. Goodness - had we run out of things to joke about? We had 2 hours of walking ahead! The walkers congregated for the start. There were plenty of men, pink and proud. In fact if anything they wore the pinkest costumes of the lot but the majority were women. It was nice to see families waking it together across three generations and plenty of mums and daughters. As we waited for the start something miraculous happened. It had stopped raining completely, and then the route stayed dry throughout.

Then we were off. It felt wonderful to have hundreds of people walking together that I instantly felt proud. As we walked through Stalybridge people came out of pubs to say well done and clap. Horns hooted from the passing cars and the blood bikes volunteers helped us to cross the road; which was handy because it can be hard to see with a superheroes mask on. I think that is why they need x ray vision. By the time we got to Dukinfield town hall we had cast all the staff at Quest Media as superheroes and had played a music quiz with the people walking behind us. We had managed three quarters of the way with ease when I started to become tired. Perhaps I’m not as fit as I thought or was it because I had watched the election results and presented the breakfast show? This was when the marshals became very important and offered words of encouragement - “You have done really well”, “Not too far now”, ”It is downhill from here”. I dropped off at the port-a-loos before making the decent back to Cheetham Park. I couldn’t believe they even had a disabled one, now that’s planning. Swimming in a sea of pink we crossed the finish line, received our medals and tucked in to a breakfast bap. The volunteers had counted up the pledges while we walked and all the walkers had collectively raised roughly £25,000 with probably more to come. Well done the superheroes in pink.