THE countdown has begun to a hospice’s biggest fundraising event of the year, with hundreds of women ready to walk round Durham under the cover of darkness in aid of the cause.

St Cuthbert’s Hospice held its first Midnight Walk, a women-only sponsored walk round Durham City staged around midnight, back in 1997.

Since then, the annual fundraiser has generated more than £400,000 for the facility, which is based in Merryoaks, Durham.

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This year’s event is planned for St Leonard’s playing fields, near County Hall, late on Saturday, June 21, and hundreds of women have already signed up to walk the 5km route, with many pledging to trek the loop twice.

Among those taking part will be the 43-strong ladies of the Lambton Arms, in Sherburn Village, aged 13 to 75 and led by landlady Kathryn Allott.

She said: “I think an awful lot of people know the good work that St Cuthbert’s Hospice does and they appreciate that it’s local.

“We do this event year after year. The atmosphere is unbelievable.

“All 40 of us will turn up on a bus from the pub as a job lot but then we meet everyone else on the walk in everybody is in such an amazing mood.

“I don’t know what it is – the dark, the lights, the fact we’re all women doing something for a good cause: it’s magical.

“Sometimes, when all you can see is the lights, it’s like seeing a Chinese dragon in the dark. It’s an unforgettable experience.”

The Midnight Walk entertainment starts at 10pm and includes singer Richard Morrell and Heart radio’s Lisa Shaw and the Heart Angels. There will be stories and a zumba-style warm-up.

Parking is available at County Hall.

Registration is still open. For further details, call organiser Lily Axworthy on 0191-386-1170, visit or email

The hospice provides free day and in-patient care for people with life-limiting illnesses and while it receives some public funding, needs to raise a further £1.3m every year.