Around 50 people challenged themselves to do ellenor’s firewalk at Maidstone United Football Club on the evening of Sunday 20 March, raising in excess of £10,000 for the charity, which supports families facing terminal illness. In Maidstone ellenor provides hospice support to children and their families – taking vital care into the family home.
The firewalk was kindly sponsored by CSiS (Civic Service Insurance Society) – meaning that all the money raised will go directly to patient care. Cheered on by a crowd of family and friends, the brave firewalkers all successfully completed the daring challenge in the car park of the football club.
In the crowd was Chris Martin from New Ash Green. His wife, Melanie, was cared for by ellenor and died at ellenor Gravesend just six weeks ago. They had four children and Chris was there to support his son, John, and his daughter, Tina Waller, taking part in the firewalk. John alone has raised £1000 in sponsorship.
“As soon as Melanie died, we all knew we wanted to do something to thank ellenor for their support,” said Chris. Melanie had been ill with ovarian cancer for three years and was told it was terminal in July last year.
“From that point we had regular visits at home from ellenor nurses, who supported Melanie in her wish to stay at home as long as she could,” said Chris. “She did spend four days in the hospice at one point and, due to their care, was able to come home with us for another two weeks. Then, one morning six weeks ago, Melanie said to me ‘I think I should go to ellenor’. She was admitted at 9.30am on the morning of 3 February and died at 10.30pm that evening. The care there was so gentle and we just want to thank everyone so much.”
While Mr Martin was in the crowd for the firewalk, he says he’s planning his own challenge for ellenor and is considering a sky dive. ellenor is organising two at Headcorn this year that he can chose from – on 11 June or 10 September.
Taking part for the second time was Steve Simmonite, manager of ellenor’s Swanley shop. This time, he signed up his two sisters as well, Carol Beer and Susan Simmonite. Their mother, June, died from breast cancer and was cared for by ellenor. He says that, towards the end of her 23 year illness, she attended Day Therapy at the hospice and really benefitted from it.
After the firewalk, Steve said: “It was amazing. I really can’t put it into words how it felt. It was uplifting. And it was time we did something a little mad together for our mother.”
Debbie Boxall, Fundraising Database and Lottery Administrator at ellenor also took part in the firewalk. Afterwards she was almost speechless. “I feel euphoric, that’s really the only way to explain it,” she said.
If you want to challenge yourself, why not sign up for ellenor’s very first Colour Run at The Hop Farm in Paddock Wood on Sunday 1 May. You can dance, hop, skip – or even mark May Day in Kent by doing some morris dancing round the course! Blowing the starting whistle is ellenor’s patron, Tom Parker from The Wanted, fresh from being a finalist in Channel 4’s The Jump. Sign up for the technicolour challenge at: ellenor.org/Events/event-details/colour-run