FUNDRAISERS on Saturday evening gathered beneath the starts as Prospect Hospice held its ninth annual Starlight Walk to raise funds for the charity.

Around 700 people, all wearing bright orange t-shirts and a gleaming array of sparkling accessories, met at Croft Leisure Centre at 8pm before embarking upon either a 10k or a 15k walk around the town.

Genevieve Arney, events and communications manager for prospect, said: “Events like this are so important for the hospice and it’s incredible to see so many people come out to support us.

“Not everyone walking tonight has a personal connection to the hospice but they see it as a worthy cause and really good fun. It’s great because people can walk round at whatever pace suits them and have a chat as they go.

“For the past three years our theme has been ‘lighting up the night’, which is why people have decorated themselves with fairy lights and sparkles.”

The annual walk is Prospect’s longest standing fundraising event and on Saturday celebrated its nine year anniversary.

It manages to raise around £50,000 from the event each year and this year organisers are hoping for and equally impressive sum.

Katy Luu, 37, of East Swindon, said: “It’s really good to be able to do something like this for charity. I’ve done this three times before and I think it’s such a great cause. I’m planning to do the Tough Mudder next month in Cirencester, so this is part of my warm up.”

Mary Yeates, 49, of Kingsdown, said: “This is the first time I’ve done the Starlight Walk and it feels great. My brother-in-law Martin stayed at Prospect for three months before he died in February last year and I’m walking in his memory tonight. This is one of the best fundraising nights for Prospect and it’s a real privilege to be a part of it.”

Michelle Morse, 38, of North Swindon, who was part of a group of 15 doing the walk, said: “We’re all really looking forward to it. We’re walking in memory of my best friend Toni because we were so impressed with the care she received from Prospect that we just wanted to give something back. They are absolutely fantastic carers and we are so grateful to them for everything they did.”

Prospect has been providing top quality end-of-life care for those in and around Swindon and North Wiltshire since 1980, but with only 28 per cent of its funding coming from the NHS fundraising events like this are vital.

Julie Tweddell, 40, of West Swindon, said: “This is my seventh Starlight Walk and I’m really looking forward to getting started. It’s great because there’s a party atmosphere and it feels like a celebration. It’s also a fantastic way of raising money and awareness of the hospice.”