Women urged to sign up for Solstice Walk fundraiser in Lichfield

After seeing both her parents cared for by St Giles Hospice, Natalie Ellis has more reason than most to want to give something back.

The Whittington-based charity will hold its tenth Solstice Walk in Lichfield on June 18.

Women taking part in the St Giles Hospice Solstice Walk

Women taking part in the St Giles Hospice Solstice Walk

But for 50-year-old Natalie, from Four Oaks, the event will have a personal meaning.

Her parents Cynthia and Ian Ewan were both cared for by the charity after being diagnosed with cancer.

She said: “Mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003, and in 2005 her GP referred her to St Giles Hospice.

“In the beginning mum received care in the form of complimentary therapies – things like Reiki and massage – and she took part in the exercise classes too. She also had a clinical nurse from St Giles Hospice who would be on hand to talk mum and dad through any concerns they had and explain in layman’s terms what the consultant had said.

“Mum fought the cancer very hard for a very long time. When we knew her fight was coming to an end she desperately wanted to be at St Giles Hospice because she felt safe there.”

Cynthia was admitted to the Compassus Centre in Whittington in October 2013 where she died, aged 75, a month later.

But her husband was also fighting his own battle with the disease after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2012.

Natalie said: “Dad’s cancer had got worse just before mum died and he was undergoing chemotherapy treatment. He was obviously already very familiar with the work that St Giles Hospice did and after mum died he started going once a week to the day hospice in Whittington.

“I think being in an environment with other people who were going through the same thing made such a difference to him – he made so many friends, he loved it there.

“I know from talking to the staff he brought a little bit of life into the hospice with his cheeky ways.”

It was in May 2014 that Ian was at the day hospice on one of his weekly visits when his condition deteriorated and he was admitted to the Compassus Centre the same day.

“It was such a hard time for us as a family because we’d been in the same position in the same place only six months before,” Natalie said.

Ian’s health continued to decline and five weeks after he was admitted to the Compassus Centre he lost his battle, aged 82.

“The care my parents received from St Giles Hospice was simply tremendous,” Natalie said. “As was the care we received as a family too.

“Seeing the work they do and knowing what a difference it made to us gave me a huge passion to want to support the charity.”

Natalie Ellis with her cousin Jo Holman  taking part in a previous Solstice Walk

Natalie Ellis with her cousin Jo Holman taking part in a previous Solstice Walk

Since the death of her parents, Natalie and her family have taken part in a number of fundraising events for St Giles Hospice, raising more than £25,000.

Natalie completed her first Solstice Walk – an annual ladies-only night-time walk through Lichfield – in 2012.

“The Solstice Walk is such a fun event to be involved with,” she said. “It’s an achievable walk for women of all ages and all levels of fitness, and there are always lots of people cheering you on and motivating you along the way.

“There is also a balloon release which is always very poignant – it’s a special time where you can think about the people you’ve lost and remember why you’re raising money for St Giles.

“I’d encourage anyone thinking about signing up for the Solstice Walk to just do it. It’s so much fun and in aid of such an incredibly worthy cause.”

The event will start at Friary Grange Leisure Centre on June 18 with a sunset party from 7.30pm before the walk sets of at 10pm. Participants can choose between the full nine-mile walk – two laps of the course – or stick to a single lap of 4.5 miles. Entry to the Solstice Walk is £15 and is open to women aged 16 and over.

To sign up visit www.stgileshospice.com/solsticewalk or call 01543 432538.

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.