More than 350 walkers painted the town purple on Friday 19 May as they took to the streets for our annual Sparkle Walk raising a staggering £57,000 for Haven House. 

Theatre Train Waltham Forest and DJ Neil got walkers in the mood with an energetic warm up and music set, before hospice mum Natasha Little cut the starting ribbon to see walkers off on their way. Donning purple outfits, lots of glitter, bright wigs and sparkle gear, walkers lit up the streets as they set off from Wanstead and completed a 10km route around South Woodford and Epping Forest.

Natasha, whose 15-year-old daughter Olivia receives care from Haven House, said:

Well done Haven House and all the wonderful volunteers for another brilliantly organised Sparkle Walk. We absolutely love this event and of course have so much love for Haven House. Thank you for asking me to cut the ribbon. It was a huge honour.”

Olivia was born with a very rare genetic condition causing complex learning and physical disabilities and has been using Haven House for the past seven years. She has been supported by several hospice services and therapies including respite care, music, yoga and physio. TeamLiv made up of Olivia’s mum, her nannies, aunties, cousins, and friends are regular participants of the walk having completed every walk since its launch four years ago.

Walkers made up of groups, individuals, friends, families and our celebrity ambassadors Billie and Greg Shepherd, smiled, strode and bounded their way along the route, thankfully in dry and bright conditions. Among participants was Joy McCormack, 63, from Walthamstow who has recently finished her treatment for bowel cancer.

Joy, who completed the walk with a dozen of her friends, said:

“I really want to support local children and tonight is also an opportunity to get together with friends and raise lots of money for the amazing Haven House.”

The walk offered the opportunity to reflect, celebrate and remember loved ones, as walkers were able to hang a sparkling star with a personalised message in the grounds of Haven House at the mid-way point. Many paid tribute to the hundreds of children who have been cared for by us.

One message read: “I pray for all the families and children that are being looked after by the wonderful team at Haven House. Thank you for all you continue to do.”

Another walker wrote: “To all the angels that we have lost. Miss you. What a special place.”

Harvey’s Angels walked in memory of Harvey Howe who died when he was 16 years old. Harvey was born with a very rare genetic disorder (Glycogen storage disease type 4). It affected his liver and muscles causing weakness, fatigue and muscle loss. Slowly over the years Harvey deteriorated but still had a normal as possible life. In 2018, sadly it became too much for his heart. The ladies carried a picture of Harvey and balloons in celebration of the teenager. They really shone in their luminous tutus, bright pink hair and sparkles.

Sophie Brady, 31, who waked alongside Harvey’s mum Lorraine, said:

“We love the Sparkle Walk. Have House were amazing for Harv and the family when they needed it most. The outreach team made it possible for Harvey to be at home surrounded by his family…that is why we do it, to thank the hospice team and to help other families during the toughest of times.”

Reiko Murray, Haven House’s Senior Community and Events Manager said:

 “What a fantastic evening! The sun shone, there was a wonderful community spirit and smiles on everyone’s faces. From everyone at Haven House, thank you to every person who turned out to take part in our Sparkle Walk and made it such a success. We are simply blown away by the incredible amount raised. Thank you to all who made the event happen, including our sponsors Savills and Gates of Woodford, our amazing volunteers, hospice staff and all the incredible walkers. Seeing a purple takeover of our local streets was something quite spectacular. It really was a fantastic event which has captured the hearts of our community. What a way to celebrate our 20th birthday year.”

A glass of fizz and goodie bag awaited walkers at the finish line back at the Cuckfield Pub in Wanstead.