Well, it’s a marvellous night for a moondance…
And with these great words and melody often in my head Jill and I and 99 others walked to raise funds for Dimbleby Cancer Care on Friday Night and Saturday morning, June 5 and 6, 2015.
I heard from brother Jonathan [Dimbleby] that as of this morning, we have gone way over the £50,000 that we had hoped to raise (remember 50 years 50 kilometres 50 thousand pounds) and as of now we have in excess of £70,000. Many, many thanks to you all for contributing to this. Jill and I have so far raised £3,274.06 but more is coming in. It was such a fantastic experience that I just wanted to share some of our night with you all now.
The atmosphere in the courtyard at the entrance to St Thomas’ was great and it was fun to meet up with family, Jonathan, Kate and Joe Dimbleby and to meet many of the walkers. Unbelievable that they gave up 12 hours of their lives to tramp the streets of London Town but we all agreed the following morning that it was an amazing and memorable 12 hours in our lives. We were blessed by fantastic weather – warm with clear skies, only a little wind and a lovely moon.
Our group set off as Big Ben boomed out 8 bells and we were off across Westminster Bridge. We then did a sort of crazy Monopoly Board of the West End: Whitehall, Pall Mall, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, The Strand and Park Lane. In order to get in 50k we did big loops which included The Mall, looking very patriotic as all the flags were out for us – well organised Robin (or was it for the Queen’s birthday and Trooping the Colour?). We meandered our way down to South Kensington where the museums were looking splendid under the floodlights as was Prince Albert and his Hall. Somewhere near there a very handsome, well dressed, young man called out ‘are you all right.?’ I replied ‘fine. I’m walking all night for a charity.’ He crossed the road and gave me a fiver. Later, near Canon Street station a roadworker appeared from nowhere and gave me £20. I realised that I was the rear guard and was using sticks.
On any walk I am always at the back and usually limping. Off the Monopoly board now in the early hours we went through the City still full of people and cars. We marvelled at the grandeur of the Shard, the Gherkin and the Cheese Grater, the splendour of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Then, in the hour before dawn we entered unknown territory for me the Docklands with its rather antiseptic housing and waterways some vast and some long and narrow like canals.
Turning a corner there was an an Edward Hopper moment – a contemporary apartment all lit up with two guys sitting and chatting inside. They saw our raggedy group and for some strange reason smiled and waved us on our way. Perhaps they saw the T shirts, perhaps they liked us for just being out and about at this unlikely hour. As we reached Canary Wharf there was a glimpse of light in the sky and and we heard birdsong along the canal and then there was old Father Thames liquid grey the ubiquitous cranes silhouetted against a pale green sky and faint curlew and seagull cries. The sun crept through a crack between high rises and the 3rd pit stop was moments away. By now the groups were quite spread out and we heard on the grapevine that Jonathan and the first group had arrived at Guys Hospital, the Finish at 5.30am.
WOW an incredibly fast time and we had such a long way still to go.
We crossed under the river Thames through the strange Victorian tiled tunnel that pops one out right by the Cutty Sark at Greenwich.
Now, came my low point. The deepest, darkest depths of Deptford did me in. I just ran out of petrol at the 40k mark. My wonderful guide Elizabeth had me sit down and offered a solution. I could get a lift to Guy’s and there was no shame in that. Others had pulled out also. I felt a bit sick and my back and recent injury to muscles in my groin were killing. We walked to a main road and to my consternation an ambulance arrived. I could not get my legs to go up onto the high step so even more ignominiously the ramp was put down so I could walk up and I was buckled into a small seat. I remember nothing of that journey. I guess I fell asleep but on arriving at Guy’s I got a huge cheer from the amazing volunteers that I had met at the pit stops and perfect Paula from DCC hugged me and as I tearfully said ‘ I only did 40k ‘ she retorted ‘there is no ‘only’ there is ‘I walked through London at night and raised loads money’.
Walkers were coming in constantly and then there was Jill. I rushed up and hugged her tired body and got her a hot, hot coffee. She is such a trooper and a treasured friend. Jill joins me here for us to give thanks together for the wonderful organisation of this event and to thank all the volunteers and guides for being superbly supportive and efficient even to the last moment when Paula and Robin carried our backpacks to the waiting taxi to take us back to Richmond. They knew we could barely raise a mug to our lips. Thank you everyone for making it happen and making it A NIGHT TO REMEMBER.
Sally Christensen, Sunday, June 7, 2015