The annual Crazy Hats walk is back and hoping for its best year yet.
Organisers have dubbed this year’s walk the Glorious 12th, and hope it will be blessed with good weather as well as record numbers of participants.
The annual event starts at 10.30am on Sunday, March 23, at Wicksteed Park in Kettering.
After postponing last year’s walk in March due to snow and then the rearranged date in May being hit by rain, charity founder Glennis Hooper said: “Our theme this year has to be ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ to make our walk the Glorious 12th.
“But in all seriousness, the weather is somewhat lower down on our list as to why a Crazy Hats walk is held each year.
“When we held our first walk in 2003 we had 250 people enter, which we thought was wonderful with £7,500 being raised through sponsorship.
“In 2004 we wondered whether we should repeat it, and asked whether it was what people wanted.
“We held another walk and this time over 500 entered with £13,500 raised.
“We knew then that the walk was to become a permanent event.
“Twelve years on, numbers have reached 2,700 with, on average, more than £50,000 being raised each year.
“We are very keen to make it a magical 3,000, and the park is telling us they could accommodate up to 7,000.”
Last year the Wellingborough-based charity was able to donate more than £100,000 to fund various projects at Kettering and Northampton general hospitals as well as set up its support and therapy service.
Miss Hooper, who was treated for breast cancer, said: “This year we have pledged to fund the same amount of money to fund new projects in screening for younger women and for surgical procedures.
“If anyone was to call in to our weekly coffee and chat mornings or sit in the waiting areas in the breast clinics in the county, they would immediately see how prominent breast cancer is at this time and how many people’s lives have been affected – this includes the patient as well as their families, carer and friends.
“As a charity we provide much-needed support for such people and we fund numerous projects at both Kettering and Northampton hospitals to ensure they both have the most up-to-date resources and facilities that the NHS cannot provide.
“We make a very significant difference to breast cancer services in Northamptonshire. Our walk is a local event, with monies raised helping local people.
“The yearly walk is one way of bringing like-minded people together to have fun, to reflect, to exercise our bodies, to remember those we have sadly lost and to contribute to the charity being able to fulfil its mission.”
Miss Hooper said to see people walking round the park is always a special moment for her.
She said: “I see a mass of pink, an array of fantastically designed crazy hats. I see happy, smiley faces and I hear much laughter and endless comments from walkers who do not even know each other but have met up, sharing a special bond.
“No-one need feel alone, when everyone is together it feels like one enormous support group, the warmth and determination shown is unbelievable.”
How to get involved
Hundreds of entry forms have already been posted to members and those who have taken part in previous walks.
Entry forms are also available by calling 01933 442999 or email.
The walk is open to people of all ages, with families and firms invited to get teams together and be in with the chance of winning one of the many awards on offer.
Miss Hooper said: “Please help us to make this year’s walk the biggest and best ever – we look forward to receiving your entries.”
Entry fees are £7 for over-16s and £5 for under-16s, which includes a T-shirt, medal, goody bag and certificate.
Miss Hooper thanked all the sponsors and volunteers who have supported the walk for many years, including Avon, Weetabix, Walkers Crisps, Bookers, the Northants Telegraph, AO Copy and Kettering Rotary.
But she would love to hear from any other companies or individuals who would like to get involved and help this year.