Neon tutus add sparkle to Blackpool's Illumathon walk

Women shone as bright as the Illuminations for Trinity Hospice’s 10th annual women-only night-time walk.

This year’s Illumathon memory walk had a neon theme, and organisers say with 650 women taking part, it certainly was a glowing success.

This years Illumathon memory walk

This years Illumathon memory walk

After entertainment by local singers Rhys Watkins and Melissa Miles, the crowd of women gathered on the Tower Headland – wearing neon tutus, flashing headbands, bright trainers and glow-in-the-dark leg-warmers – were once again put through their paces with a warm-up by Blackpool aerobics instructor, Sarah Linton.

Then they set off along the Promenade, choosing to walk either a five mile or eight mile course through the Illuminations – with support provided by marshals, volunteers and of course, local bikers.

Pinned to some of the walkers’ backs, were brief messages about loved ones they were walking in memory of.

Waiting for walkers at the end of the course in the early hours of Sunday morning, were Trinity staff and bacon butties, provided by Coral Island.

Linzi Young, head of fundraising at Bispham-based Trinity, said: “All I have is words, and words don’t seem enough to thank those who give up their night to take part in or help with this event.

“Over the last 10 years, you have raised more than £700,000.

“Those of you walking in memory of, or in celebration of, someone special, for the benefit of Trinity are doing something amazing and I can’t thank you enough for joining us for this 10th anniversary year.”

Sarah Roberts, a nurse at Trinity for 23 years, was taking part in the walk with eight-year-old daughter Poppy. Sarah said: “The Illumathon is a great, fun way to raise money for Trinity, to help patients and local families. It’s the first time Poppy took part, she really wanted to do it.

“She hears me talking about looking after the patients and she felt she wanted to do something to help. It’s amazing so many women come to take part, it means so much to everybody at Trinity. The atmosphere is always great, with all the colourful outfits and the effort everyone makes.” As the weather brightened up to stay dry after a poor start to the weekend, a surge of women signed up to walk on the night itself at the registration desk. Nicola Lea, of Blackpool, was taking part in the Illumathon for the first time, with friends Sam Bonney, of Blackpool and Tracy Edgar, of Lytham. She said: “My daughter, who is 12, was the one who wanted to do it and I said I would do it with her. Sam wanted to come along and so did Tracy. She just said she wanted to do something to help raise money for Trinity. It’s such a good cause, they help so many local people. We just want to support it.”

Tara McCormack, and Stacey Lewis, of Thornton, were also taking part for the first time.

Tara said: “My mum was looked after at Trinity. We only found out 48 hours before she died we were going to lose her. But trinity helped our family, they were amazing.”

Fitness instructor Suzy Clayton-Jones, of Lytham, was walking with members of her Zumba crew from all across the Fylde coast. She said: “We do it every year, it’s such a great night out.

We just want to raise money for Trinity, as it a great cause.” Shirley Morgan, press and communications manager at Trinity, said there were several walkers taking part who had done every Trinity Illumathon since it began 10 years ago.

She said: “It’s a big ask, to ask people to give up their night, to come and take part and walk for Trinity. Some of those taking part had been at work all day, some were working the next day, some have young families. The fact they give up those hours and their night, and are still doing it after 10 years, is amazing, and it is really appreciated.”