Around September 2016 in fact, with all the design work for the leaflets and posters, the advertising and preparing the website for supporters to sign up.
This is our ninth year of running Moonlight and my fourth of being involved, so I am pretty familiar with what’s going on these days although we had a few changes this year including moving the first refreshment stop from our Summersdale shop to Lavant Road Surgery due to the building work taking place there. We also added a final pit stop at Florence Park Café, with Jo and her team providing our walkers with hot drinks and lots of delicious home made goodies.
So with the pastries delivered, it was home for a few hours rest before the main event got underway later in the day. It's always a bit of a whirlwind at event HQ, packing vans and sorting refreshments, but we eventually set off to the Westgate Centre to meet the team of staff and volunteers who were ready to help set everything up to make the event happen.
The atmosphere is always very emotionally charged with lots of excitement but also a hint of melancholy as lots of loved ones are remembered. We had lots going on; walkers registering, messages being hung on our tree, t-shirts being decorated, raffle tickets being sold and lots of selfies being taken - especially with 'Wise Wilf', the Hospice mascot! This year we also had some funky glow accessories - these sold out really quickly – so we promise to get extra for next year!
10pm and they are off….
Countdown done and away they stream. Our volunteer route marshals are in position and awaiting the first arrivals, while back in the hall it's a flurry of activity, changing everything around to receive our first finishers with a hot drink and a tasty breakfast. I always liken this bit to the eye of a storm, we have had the hustle of everyone arriving and then we have a bit of a lull before the first walkers start arriving back about 90 minutes later.
Around the route we have over 30 pairs of marshals standing on street corners and lurking in dark alleyways - all in the name of fundraising! They really are our eyes and ears on the ground, keeping an eye out for the walkers and reporting back to event HQ about anyone that needs assistance.
So, I finally got to see my bed at about 5am - even though it is such a long day I really love it. It’s great to hear all the positive comments and feedback we get from our walkers about how much of an amazing event it is to take part in. Roll on number 10!
When our first walkers arrive back it’s all hands on deck again to get them signed back in and to dish out the well-deserved breakfast pastries and drinks. Some of the walkers choose to have a relaxing massage given by our volunteer complementary therapists. The hall buzzes with positive exhaustion after the walk - it’s a great time of the night, with our volunteers cheering the walkers and spurring them on through the final stretch towards the finish line.
Even once every one has left around 3.30am our day is not done, but with help from the amazing team at Everyone Active, we clear up and put the Westgate Centre back to how it started.