Midnight Walk – Heather’s story

Heather's story shares her special connection to Dorothy House Hospice Care and how supporting events such as the Women's Midnight Walk is one of the ways she gives back to the Hospice.

My connection with Dorothy House Hospice Care

The connection that is closest to my heart is that my dearest Mum accessed support from Geoff, a wonderful Dorothy House Nurse Specialist, who came to the house to support us at a really difficult time.

All of Dorothy House services are entirely free of charge - everything! All the therapies, all the treatments, for everyone, it’s all free. I wanted to give something back and the Walk lets me do that.

What the Midnight Walk means to me

I did the Midnight Walk for my beautiful Mum, Valerie Gardener. She was the Queen of Mothers and meant everything to me, to us all. She was everything a mother should be, and she was loved by all her family beyond measure. Mum was laughter and sunshine in the rain and was always there for everyone. I wanted to give something back by doing the Midnight Walk in memory of her.

My Mum was diagnosed with throat cancer in December 2015, and we lost her at the end of January 2016, so it was very quick. Although she didn’t receive support for an extensive period of time, her Dorothy House Nurse Specialist, Geoff, was the person who was honest, open, and without fail always massively supportive. He even visited us once after we lost our Mum which meant so very much. Although she was in hospital when she died (it was very complicated as every death is), there was a link from Dorothy House which was really lovely.

There are no words to say how I feel. ‘Thank you’ are too humble words, yet they mean everything. From the bottom of my heart to everyone involved in every aspect, thank you for everything. They are amazing. 

Walking with my family

I did the Midnight Walk with my daughter and other family members. It was genuinely brilliant, from beginning to end. The event was so well organised. It was filled with fun and laughter and tears… but happy tears! It’s such a good way to walk and talk and remember those we’ve love. Everyone is there because they’re linked to Dorothy House and just want to do some good, but most people have got their own story of a loved one, of a close one, which is really special.

It’s so special to walk at night - there are lots of light, lots of torches, lots of glow lights. It radiated something beautiful - that was really good to see. Taking part makes you feel very emotional, very humble, very proud, very grateful to be there. I think of my Mum a thousand times a day, but being there just brought her alive. You are walking for that person you love and it makes you proud beyond words.

A run down of the event

Before the start there are some fabulous people who really have the gift of energising the crowd! They raise the excitement levels and anticipation! There’s music and people cheering everyone on. A few years ago we made history by placing in the Guinness World Records for having the largest gathering of people wearing feather boas in one place!


Heather and her family at the Midnight Walk


An electric atmosphere

It’s one of these things where you feel like you don’t want it to end. The atmosphere is electric – it’s a riot of excitement, colour and vibrancy. I think the thing that stands out is that when you look around and see the number of families, the number of people. Even though there might be several people from one family, when you think of the mass of people there and that this is the tiniest percentage of everyone that’s actually accessed support in some way from Dorothy House, it really makes you stop and think. 

You overtake people, or people overtake you, so everyone is very pleased to chat and wants to stop and say hello, and that they’re pleased to meet you. We used to live in Bath, so we know Bath very well, but the walk evoked memories of happy fun times that I spent with my mother. I could just see her smile, hear her as I walked. It was happy.

It’s such a nice girl time – lots of female laughter and fun and it's special to have that daughter and mother time… it’s just lovely. My family and friends were very kind and supportive. Lots of people raised a lot more but I was very pleased to raise just over £400. Every little helps!

Volunteering for Dorothy House Hospice Care

All the events rely on volunteers and because I work and am the main carer for my Dad, I don’t have a lot of time. But over the years I’ve made cakes, sold merchandise, helped with fundraising events, served coffees, teas, been part of the Frome Friends group, collected Christmas trees, helped at the Santa Dash, the Dusk Walk - it’s just amazing fun!

The Christmas trees collections are just hilarious, it’s brilliant! I’ve had the best times and made some wonderful friends though volunteering for Dorothy House. I’ve made some really, truly magical friends. I love them to bits. I’ve laughed, cried, and enjoyed being with others. If anyone just has a few minutes to spare to make a cake or volunteer time, just do it. It feels good, it is good, and you will want to do it again. You really can and will make a difference. By giving you do receive more. It’s a gift you give, but you get so much back.

Making friends and special memories

If you do take part in the Midnight Walk, you will want to do it again and again with your friends because it is just such a magical, magical time!

Don’t hesitate – just do it and encourage everyone you can to join you. You will have an amazing time, seriously. You won’t regret it! There are so many faces you recognise and it’s all about making friends.