Thousands turn up to back Crazy Hats

A SEA of pink flowed around Wicksteed Park as thousands of cancer sufferers and their loved ones turned out for an emotional 10th anniversary Crazy Hats walk.

Almost 2,500 people in fancy dress, many whose lives have been touched by the disease, yesterday walked up to five miles around the Kettering park to raise money for the Wellingborough-based breast cancer charity.

Organiser Glennis Hooper, 57, who founded the charity in 2002 after being diagnosed with breast cancer, said: “I’m very, very emotional. It gets better and better every year.

“Just watching the snake of people going round, it’s a sea of pink and everyone is here for the same reason.”

Even before sponsorship money comes in the walk has raised more than £12,000 in entrance fees to pay for cancer research, equipment for hospitals where local sufferers are treated and support for them and their families.

Almost every walker, including children and dogs, woreg a home-made hat and pink Crazy Hats T-shirt.

Many were carrying pink roses being sold by the charity on the day.

Assembled walkers closed their eyes, held hands or waved them in the air as the now-traditional You’ll Never Walk Alone was played before they set off.

Light rain failed to dampen spirits as they set off around the mile-long route around the park. The walk was made more poignant as it fell on Mothers Day, with many people remembering mothers lost to the disease.

Miss Hooper, whose 87-year-old mother Mamie started the race, said: “With it being Mothers Day it has even more meaning.

“The commitment from people and the love and belief in what we are doing, you can’t put it into words.

“I’m just so proud of everybody.”

President of the charity Dr Roy Mathew, 63, a cancer specialist at Kettering General Hospital, said: “I’ve got a mother who’s nearing the end of her life. It makes me realise how important a mother is.

“Today I’ve also learned how people can feel when they lose their mothers.”

Wellingborough and Rushden MP Peter Bone, who did the walk wearing a fluorescent beanie hat with his 11-year-old son Tom, said: “They are raising a phenomenal amount of money.”

And Kettering MP Philip Hollobone, who was wearing a Union Flag jester hat, said: “It’s a wonderful cause to support.”