Walking under the stars in memory of Mum

"I'm raising vital funds for the only hospice with an inpatient unit in Gloucestershire”, says Duncan Willoughby as he prepares to join hundreds of walkers at this year’s Leckhampton Court Starlight Hike.

Duncan, Enterprise Coorindator for GFirst LEP based at the Growth Hub in the University of Gloucestershire, will be lacing up his walking shoes on Saturday 20th October to take part in the 10k night time walk through Cheltenham.

Image of Duncan, who is taking part in Leckhampton Court's Starlight Hike

He will be joined by work colleagues as they take on the walk as a team of five alongside hundreds of other walkers from right across the county in support of the Gloucestershire hospice.

And Duncan wants to share his story about why he is taking on Starlight Hike, to encourage more people to sign up and support the hospice who helped care for his Mum.

He said, “My Mum’s name was Denise Elizabeth Rosemary Willoughby, and when she died, on a very stormy night in October 2013, she was a month short of her 63rd birthday.”

“I will never forget the way one of the nurses held Mum’s hand hours before she died, and how in that one touch he transferred such peace to my Mum. It was miraculous.”

“Mum had been fighting small cell lung cancer for almost six months and had struggled with the pain caused by the cancer. The storm seemed to mimic her own struggle with life in those final hours.”

“Mum showed real determination, courage, strength and dignity in her struggle with cancer, as she had throughout her life, and she tenaciously held on as long as her body could, but in spirit was undiminished to the end.”

 “It is difficult to put into words what the hospice means to me. I was a Community Fundraiser at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice for seven years and have joined many of the hikes helping to organise the event, putting out direction signs and welcoming walkers.”

“It’s a starry night with atmosphere and it always evokes a range of emotions – hope, remembrance, excitement, fun.”

“This year will be the fifth anniversary since I lost Mum, and this time I will be joining walkers on their journey around Cheltenham, so it will be a very different experience for me.”

“My work colleagues have decided to join me as they recognise the excellent work of Sue Ryder, so we will be forming a team.”

“The hospice is a place we never choose willingly to go to, but when faced with the realities of end of life, it couldn’t be a better place to be other than at home. It is clichéd to say that the staff are angels, but they are the closest thing on earth to it.”

“Mum is never far from my thoughts and I miss her strength and her wise counsel. She was an authentic individual and as such is irreplaceable”.

“I hope the funds we help raise will go towards the continuation of exemplary care that Sue Ryder provides for families.”

About Leckhampton Court's Starlight Hike

Last year Starlight Hike saw 523 walkers take to the streets of Cheltenham raising over £60,000 for the hospice charity – the most raised ever.

This year the centre hopes to smash this target to help fund its expert and compassionate palliative care, but needs more people like Duncan and his colleagues to join them. 

Register for Starlight Hike

Online registration closes at midnight on Monday 15th October. Find out more about the event and how to register.

Image of Duncan Willoughby
Duncan Willoughby

Duncan Willoughby is an Enterprise Coorindator for GFirst LEP based at the Growth Hub in the University of Gloucestershire and is taking part in Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court's Starlight Hike in memory of his Mum.