The famous Manchester Midnight Walk will have a new virtual twist this year, as organisers respond creatively to the lockdown and adapt the event to ensure their biggest fundraiser of the year can continue.
The city is normally abuzz with excitement as participants swarm its streets to take on the sponsored bee-themed moonlit walk in aid of St Ann’s Hospice patients.
But, when lockdown threatened to lead to the cancellation of the event, organisers were forced to come up with a creative way of raising funds.
Eamonn O’Neal, St Ann’s Chief Executive, explained: “The Manchester Midnight Walk is not only the go-to event of the year for more than a thousand local people, but it’s also the hospice’s biggest annual fundraiser.
“The coronavirus has meant many of our fundraising events and activities have had to be postponed or cancelled, and as a charity whose front-line care for patients and families is more important than ever, this is obviously an extremely challenging time.
“Feedback from those who have signed up to take part in the Manchester Midnight Walk is that they would be really disappointed if they were unable to complete it, so we’ve come up with a way for them to do so whilst keeping safe, and adhering to government rules and guidance around daily exercise and social distancing.”
The event will now take place as a virtual walk, challenging participants to complete either 5kms in a day or 10kms through one week as part of their permitted daily exercise, or around the house, any time in June. Families who live together and are able to exercise as a group are welcome to take on the challenge together, with those completing it receiving a special medal and t-shirt.
Eamonn added: “We couldn’t be more grateful to all of the people who have got in touch and offered support by donating goods and funds to the hospice, especially at this really difficult time. The community spirit of people across Greater Manchester is truly amazing – no matter what hardships or problems individuals are facing, there are so many fantastic people who are happy to step up and raise money for care for others.
“I’m really proud to be part of a team that is working hard to ensure that our specialist support for patients can continue, pulling out all the stops to ensure we can do so.”
The Manchester Midnight Walk has raised more than £2million for the charity since it launched thirteen years ago, with more than a thousand people annually embracing the challenge and taking on the 10km course round the city centre at night. Organisers are hoping participants of this virtual walk will don their yellow t-shirts, and take on the challenge in an attempt to raise a target of £50 in sponsorship for the hospice each.
The event is sponsored by Betfred, who are long-term supporters of the hospice. Group Head of Marketing at Betfred, Gemma Strath-Billington, said: “It’s an honour for Betfred to be sponsoring this fantastic event for the sixth year, even though it has a very different feel this time around. The hospice is very close to Fred’s heart and his support has been a huge benefit to the hospice. The St Ann’s Team work endlessly to ensure that this event delivers on its fundraising goals. Good luck to all the walkers taking part.”
All those already signed up to take part in the Manchester Midnight Walk can automatically take part in the Manchester Virtual Walk, and the hospice is hoping as many other local people as possible will register to join them to raise vital funds.
Signs ups can be made on the website www.mmwalk.org.uk or by calling 0161 498 3631.