How it all started.

From a tiny seed great things have grown............
It all started back in 2008, after Kate had taken part in a Sunrise Walk run by another charity. At that time she was having counselling at the Laura Centre with Alison, after her son Adam had died. She recalls, “I remember walking into Alison’s counselling room and telling her all about the walk and saying to her "you should do something like that for The Laura Centre. Alison’s simple response was “go on then".

After giving it some thought, and discussing the idea we decided that it seemed like something achievable.

The first challenge was where could we hold an event like this? We had a clear vision for what we wanted the Sunrise walk to be like. This meant trying to find a space big enough to hold approx 150 people that had the facilities we needed, such as toilets, parking and lighting. It soon became apparent that local council parks were not going to be a viable option so it was back to the drawing board.

The challenge was soon solved when Mr and Mrs Handy, of Arthingworth Lodge came to the rescue and agreed that we could use their land; a caravan site on the edge of their farm, with fields for parking, toilets and an electricity supply, plus plenty of space suitable to hold the balloon release. It seemed the perfect option.

The next stage was to plan a walk. So the OS map of that area came out and various bits of string later the walk had been devised, a 5 mile route which started from the farm, went along part of the Brampton Valley Way and back across field paths to where we had started.

So we had the venue and we had the route!

Now we needed to work out all the other bits, like advertising, food, drinks, marshals, costs and safety! Kate and Alison had several meetings together trying to decide how to go about sourcing all of this. It was clear that we needed more people onboard to get this off the ground.

Three members of the monthly TLC walking group came on board to help out and so the Sunrise team (as we are now known) was created, the team comprises of Alison (counsellor at The Laura Centre) Kate, Paula, Nancy and Alison (all friends of The Laura Centre)

From that point on it was all systems go! A flier was designed and printed, the breakfast food, balloons, labels, lighting, water urn and gas had to be sourced and marshals found. Once we had everything in place advertising the event was our priority.

It was a nail biting time for us all, we patiently waited for people to register and up to just a few weeks before the walk numbers were still below what we had hoped for. On occasions our spirits dropped and we wondered what we had got ourselves into. However we all remained positive and hoped that enough people would register to make the walk successful. Sure enough we had no need to worry because by the day of the walk over 100 people had registered.  So we were ready to go!

Behind the scenes

On the day before the walk takes place, the Sunrise team meet at around 10am and go off armed with secateurs, shears, posts and mallet and way markers, walking the route carrying out final preparations. We check for obstacles, such as branches that are overhanging the paths and cut them back if needed. Way markers are put in place and the final decisions made on which route is the least muddy!! The walk usually takes us a lot longer than on the Sunday as we stop frequently to cut back debris, hammer in posts and fix signs. We also usually stop and have some sort of debate over one thing or another!

In the meantime our army of volunteers are left behind setting up gazebos, tents and tables for registration, filling the water urns for hot drinks. The tractor and trailer are put in place as a makeshift stage from where the warm up routine gets the walk underway.

The first ever Laura Centre Sunrise Walk took place on Sunday 12th September 2010 with 108 people walking, it was a huge success and it continues to take place each September.

We often recall that first morning standing in the field at 5.30 in the morning. It was dark and cold but with a clear starry sky and bright moon overhead. With nervous excitement building we watched the first headlights beaming towards us as the cars drove up the farm track (this is still a magical moment several years on)

The nervous excitement grew with the realisation that people were actually turning up for our event!

On return from the walk it was lovely watching people milling around eating and talking and then later watching the balloons as they drifted up into the sky in memory of our loved ones.

After everyone had left our army set to work dismantling everything and packing up to go home. By 10.30am the caravan site was back to normal. Exhausted we went off to enjoy a second breakfast at a nearby cafe. The nervousness had subsided but the excitement had grown as we recounted the various happenings of the morning and as we started to plan the second Sunrise Walk!

Since then it has gone from strength to strength. We have made alterations and improvements, based on people's comments and through our own experience.
Everything we need for the event is now donated, thanks mainly to the charm and persistence of Paula!

We now provide a hot drink on arrival and Instead of the breakfast bar and muffins, we now provide a hot bacon bap for everyone on their return, cooked superbly by our chef John. Professional banners and signs have been kindly donated; these have helped raise the profile of the Sunrise Walk. The lighting has improved since the first event and we now own a set of very bright lights which were also donated.

It's thanks to all our volunteers and the people who have kindly donated that help the event run so smoothly and efficiently.

In the past five years approximately 179 people have taken part in this event and we have raised approximately £11,000.Each year we raise a significant sum towards the ever growing running costs that help keep the Laura Centre open. We are enormously proud of what we have achieved and the money that we have raised to help support this valuable work.

Thank you to everyone who each year contributes towards making the Sunrise Walk possibleand especially to those people who have attended the walk.
In addition an extra special thank you must be said to Maurice and Linda Handy and their son James for their kindness in allowing us to use the land of Arthingworth Lodge, without them there wouldn’t be a Sunrise Walk.
We hope to see you on our next walk

Best wishes
Alison (counsellor) Kate, Paula, Nancy, Alison.