What better way to raise money for a good cause than by doing a sponsored walk combined with London Open House Weekend, and that’s exactly what we did on Friday 16th September.
The Maggie Culture Crawl 2016 was a 10 mile night time walk through central London, stopping off and visiting some iconic London buildings. All in aid of raising money for Maggies Centres, an incredible charity offering facilities and support for cancer sufferers, their family and friends.
Our team of 6 (Ann, Sue, Nita, Audrey, Carole and myself) arrived at Tate Britain at 6.30pm along with the 600 others that had registered. We were issued with T-Shirts and a route map which also showed buildings we would be visiting. After a quick look round Tate Britain, encouraging speeches and a mass warm up exercises we were set loose on the streets of London at 7.40pm.
A mass of enthusiastic, orange clad walkers set off at a cracking pace, before settling into our stride as the crowds dispersed. Walking at our own comfortable pace, we all had a reason and motivation for taking part in the walk and I know that I reflected on all the people I have lost over the years to cancer.
The event was really well organised with road signs and volunteer marshals along the way, cheering and encouraging us on. There is something quite magical about walking through London at night and there will be lasting memories. Initially there were after work drinkers and people out for the usual Friday night fun. Then as it got later the shops and restaurants were closing down and the streets were getting deserted. However, when we got to the Mayfair area and all the fancy hotels it was packed with very trendy late night clubbers – the young, rich set.
At each venue we were welcomed by Maggies Centre volunteers and curators and staff. The various venue had great entertainment and much needed refreshments and loo facilities.
My lovely pink walking boots eventually took me to our final destination, The Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly, at 1.40pm, exactly 6 hours after we had set off.
Highlights for me in no particular order: walking for a joint cause with my friends, being in Kensington Gardens in pitch dark with a full moon and going into Kensington Palace, Foster and Partners architects office, the illuminated violin player at the Royal Academy, arriving at the Maggie Centre at Charring Cross hospital with everyone cheering us in and cars honking their horns, London at night, getting the night train home.
Whilst I was always pretty confident that I would be able to go the distance, it is much harder pounding the London pavements than our usual walking terrain. The factor that really threw me was how tired I was, overall your body clock is totally out of sync as you are not usually doing a long walk at one o’clock in the morning, but sensibly tucked up in bed!
It was an incredible adventure and I am really grateful to Ann for asking me to share in the experience and to my walking team mates. I also want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone that sponsored me. I will let you know the final total raised shortly.
Would I do it again – YOU BET!
p.s. Yes, I am still wearing my medal!!
Buildings we visited:
TATE BRITAIN: Showing everything from Turner to Tillmans, Tate Britain was built on the site of the former Millbank prison and the arches from the former cells are still visible on the lower floors.
FOSTER & PARTNERS: Founded in 1967, an international studio for architecture, planning, engineering and design. They have just completed the largest Maggie’s Centre, a warm homely building in a garden setting in Manchester.
MAGGIE’S WEST LONDON: Attached to Charing Cross Hospital, Maggie’s West London won the 2009 RIBA Stirling Prize for Building of the Year.
KENSINGTON PALACE: Built in 1605 it has been home to George ll, Queen Victoria, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales. During the 18th century the gardens included a wildlife park containing tigers, civets, exotic birds and tortoises.
THE VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM: This world’s leading museum of art and design houses a permanent collection of over 2.3million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity. Collections include architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics, theatre and performance.
THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS: An artist-led charity, for artists promotes the theory and practice of art. They organise various exhibitions and educational events as well as the famous Summer Exhibition.
Maggie’s provides free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer, their family and friends.
Built in the grounds of NHS cancer hospitals, Maggie’s Centres are places with professional staff on hand to offer the support people need. Theyoffer practical advice about benefits and eating well; qualified experts provide emotional support; can meet other people; places where you can simply sit quietly with a cup of tea.
The first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996 and since then Maggie’s has continued to grow, with 17 Centres at major NHS cancer hospitals in the UK, online and abroad.