Fiona Ginn shares tragic story of husband Mike’s death with crowds ahead of Midnight Walk

Fiona Ginn with her daughter, Hope. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Fiona Ginn with her daughter, Hope. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Determined fundraisers galvanised by experiences of loss and tragedy pounded the streets of Ipswich in the pouring rain this weekend in support of a charity that gives hope to families during their darkest hours.

Fiona is supporting St Elizabeth Hospice in memory of her husband, Mike. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Fiona is supporting St Elizabeth Hospice in memory of her husband, Mike. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Despite the gloomy weather, 2,500 supporters turned out in neon and sparkle outfits to take part in the 12th annual Midnight Walk on Saturday in aid of St Elizabeth Hospice, which offers care to people living with a progressive or terminal illness.

Emotions were running high in the build up to the walk as Fiona Ginn from Holbrook took to the stage to explain why she was participating.

As a member of St Elizabeth Hospice’s fundraising staff since 2013, Fiona was aware of the good work the charity does, but she experienced its services first hand when her primary school teacher husband Mike died last year at the age of 29.

Mike was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2016 – just 10 weeks after the birth of the couple’s “miracle” daughter Hope, who arrived after five years of failed attempts to conceive and unsuccessful IVF treatment.

Fiona and Mike Ginn. Picture: FIONA GINN

Fiona and Mike Ginn. Picture: FIONA GINN - Credit: Fiona Ginn

Addressing the crowds, Fiona, 31, said: “The hospice supported us every step of the way. They arranged for me to have complementary therapies to help me get through the dark days. They helped Mike with all of his paperwork and they were there to give him emotional support when he needed it.

“The nursing team at the hospice was wonderful. It was the first time I had seen the hospice from a patient’s viewpoint. Nothing was too much trouble. I was allowed to stay with Mike in his room all day and all night. We were allowed our privacy as a family but the team was always there to make sure Mike was comfortable and cared for.

“I’m so grateful to have been able to have that quality time with Mike before he died. Quality time that we would never have had without the hospice.”

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This year the Midnight Walk began and finished at Trinity Park, just outside Ipswich.

Mike was diagnosed with leukaemia just 10 months after the birth of his daughter, Hope. Picture: FIO

Mike was diagnosed with leukaemia just 10 months after the birth of his daughter, Hope. Picture: FIONA GINN - Credit: Fiona Ginn

Jade Ver-haest, 31, was taking part alongside husband Tony, 37, in memory of her grandad who was cared for by the hospice before his death 18 months ago.

“It’s a feel good event for a sad experience people go through,” said Jade, who was inspired to work for the charity after witnessing the great work it does.

Mel Ward, 34, signed up to the Midnight Walk with neighbour Denise Woodfield, 37, in recognition of help the hospice gives her mother, who is living with motor neurone disease.

Sisters Sophie Harvey, 26, and Kirsty Acott, 32, took part to say ‘thank you’ for the support the hospice gave their grandad.

Melanie Joseph and Belinda Stokes ready for the walk. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Melanie Joseph and Belinda Stokes ready for the walk. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Participating in the event for the second year, Sophie said: “It brings everyone together – it’s a sense of everyone doing it for the same thing.”

In the run up to the event, those who were taking part in memory of someone were asked to share their photos and these were displayed in a moving montage on a big screen ahead of the walk.

Fundraisers were re-energised with an upbeat performance from Just Jay Dance and a warm up show from the Townsend Twins before setting off.

Walkers were able to complete either a six or 10-mile route, both of which passed through the hospice where a memory tree was waiting for people to add their tags with messages to remember and celebrate loved ones.

The event raises tens of thousands of pounds for the hospice. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The event raises tens of thousands of pounds for the hospice. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The first walkers crossed the finish line around midnight to cheering crowds of volunteers who presented them with medals and a hot drink as their reward.

Becky Jedrzejewski, events and challenges fundraiser at St Elizabeth Hospice said: “This event has been a whole year in the planning and it’s great to see that everyone has had such a wonderful time raising money for the hospice. It takes a lot of work to put the event on and I’d like to say a huge thank you to our 200 volunteers who have helped to marshal the route, man the refreshment stands, help with registration, award medals and much, much more. The Midnight Walk simply wouldn’t happen without their support.

“All the services we offer at the hospice are free of charge to our patients and their families but that means we need to generate £10.5million a year to be able to do this. Thanks to everyone that turned out, we’ll be able to continue to deliver these services to more local people that need our support.”

Sponsorship is still being counted, but last year the Midnight Walk brought in a massive £200,000 for St Elizabeth Hospice.

Walkers set out on a damp night. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Walkers set out on a damp night. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Fundraisers of all ages took part. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Fundraisers of all ages took part. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The rain failed to dampen the spirits of the thousands of people who turned out for the Midnight Wal

The rain failed to dampen the spirits of the thousands of people who turned out for the Midnight Walk. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Vanessa Girling and Hannah Stenning dancing in the rain. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Vanessa Girling and Hannah Stenning dancing in the rain. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Maddy Tarry, Lesley Roper and Danielle Haworth. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Maddy Tarry, Lesley Roper and Danielle Haworth. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Walkers ready for the St Elizabeth Hospice's Midnight Walk. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Walkers ready for the St Elizabeth Hospice's Midnight Walk. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Alex Wallis, Olivia Siddons, Sophie Wallis and Corinne Webber. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Alex Wallis, Olivia Siddons, Sophie Wallis and Corinne Webber. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The event attracted 2,500 walkers. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The event attracted 2,500 walkers. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant