Walkers turned out in force to show their support for Salisbury District Hospital at Walk for Wards on Sunday (July 7).

Over 2,000 participants registered to take part in the event at Wilton House.

After some of the walkers shared their reasons for taking part, Martin Starke, from Greatest Hits Radio, led the countdown before Dr Tracey Parker, Consultant on the Pembroke Cancer Unit at the Hospital and Stars Appeal Ambassador, along with Stars Appeal President, the Earl of Pembroke, cut the ribbon to get the walk underway.

Dr Parker says: “It was magnificent to see so many people at Wilton House for Walk for Wards. Incredibly, the wet weather didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits, and the desire to support our lovely hospital was as strong as ever. It was, as always, very emotional to see the little messages affixed to our supporter’s shirts, sharing why they are walking.

“The money raised will go towards a range of fantastic Stars Appeal projects, benefitting thousands of local people in our hospital. We cannot thank our walkers enough for their unwavering support. It’s simply amazing!”

Participants were walking 3k, 5k, or 10k to thank the Hospital for the care they or their family have received across various wards and departments, with some dedicating their walk in memory of a friend, parent, sibling or child.

There were walkers dressed in colourful outfits including some dressed as Star Wars characters and Spider-Man. A team from Wilton Fire Station did the 10k in their firefighting gear.

Francesca and Tim Evans were walking in support of the Neonatal Unit who cared for their now eight-month-old daughter Margaux, who was born two months premature last October and spent a month in hospital. During this time Francesca was able to stay with Margaux in the Stars Appeal parents’ accommodation.

Francesca says: “We wanted to thank all the people on the Neonatal Unit. I felt so lucky that I could stay on the ward with Margaux the whole time. Being able to be with her felt like I could be a mum from the very beginning, without the Stars Appeal it wouldn’t have been possible.”

“It was a lovely walk and so fantastic to see parts of the Wilton Estate that we never get to see,” adds Francesca who was taking part in Walk for Wards for the first time.

Andy Hockey, who had to have his leg amputated after being diagnosed with sepsis took on the 5k walk to say thank you for the care he received on Odstock Ward. It was the longest distance he had walked on his prosthetic leg.

After crossing the finish line, he says: “I’m proud I did it. It was the toughest challenge I’ve had since my amputation. It means so much to me to be able to do this because of everything the Hospital has done for me.”

Steward and Jennifer Bell, pictured above in the dinosaur t-shirts, completed the 10k with their sons Thomas and Edward to support the Neonatal Unit and Sarum Children’s Unit.

Stewart says: “We’re incredible happy to be able to support NICU and Sarum Unit. They’ve looked after us so well and it’s the least we could do to give something back.”

Jennifer adds: “We want to make sure other people are looked after as well as we were.

Three-and-a-half-year-old Thomas walked a lot of the route with his family and his dad Stewart says “he’s been our little superhero” on the day.

It is hoped the event, which is the 19th Walk for Wards, has raised over £100,000. Money raised will go towards the £1million the Stars Appeal, Salisbury Hospital’s Charity, aims to raise this year to fund new equipment, enhancements to buildings, and ongoing projects supporting patients across Salisbury Hospital.

Walk for Wards is sponsored by Salisbury Reds and all the routes were marshalled by a team, which included local Rotary Club members, led by David Huckfield.

Helena Sinclair, from the Stars Appeal who organised the walk, adds: “We want to say a massive thank you to everyone who took part in Walk for Wards. We also want to thank our hosts Lord and Lady Pembroke and the team at the Wilton Estate, our principal sponsors Salisbury Reds, David Huckfield and the Rotary Club marshals for their support, and all our wonderful volunteers. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year for our 20th Walk for Wards event!”

A date for Walk for Wards 2025 will be announced soon.

Pictures by Simon Ward, Spencer Mulholland and Donald Capewell. Drone video by Mike Boss. 

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