THE second St Luke’s Hospice Starlight Walk saw 1,200 heading out on the 5km route from Endcliffe Park to Forge Dam. And every one of them had a story to tell.
The marchers wore T-shirts of white and blue and on each was pinned a message.
“I’m walking for Beryl,” read one sign, attached to the shirt of Keith Booler, aged 74.
“There are 29 of us here today and we’re walking for my wife,” said Keith, from Gleadless, a father of eight, grandfather of 18 and great-grandfather of 15.
“Beryl passed away last year at the age of 74. She had bowel cancer and there was nothing the doctors could do for her.
“But we had her for two-and-a-half more years and St Luke’s did everything they could for her. Beryl didn’t want to go to hospital, so St Luke’s helped me keep her at home and supported me. She died with dignity, at home, where she wanted to be.”
St Luke’s, in Whirlow, has been helping families like Beryl’s for 41 years.
It was the first hospice outside London when it was founded in 1971, and supports 1,500 people a year, some in their own homes.
The charity gets £2 million from the NHS every year but needs to raise another £4m from donations to keep its doors open.
Gill Edwards, 56, from Woodhouse, is suffering from cancer of the kidney and the stomach and visits the day centre once a week.
The retired Marks & Spencer shop assistant said: “St Luke’s have been wonderful.
“I know there’s a lot of sadness but it’s been a very good place for me. The nurses are absolutely brilliant – they are so caring. And I love taking part in the craft sessions. I look forward to visiting every week.”
Gill was pushed along the route in her wheelchair by an entourage of 21 women, including daughters Lucy and Laura.
Behind them, 12 walkers were marching for Sharon Rider, 53, from Hillsborough, who died on April 6 after a battle with ovarian cancer.
Her daughter Keeley, 28, said: “The care she received at St Luke’s was excellent. It was so peaceful for her.”