Great Britain

Virtual Solstice Saunter to raise desperately-needed funds for Oxenhope Sue Ryder hospice Manorlands

A POPULAR annual event in aid of Manorlands is going ahead – virtually.

The Solstice Saunter normally sees several hundred people run around the Bolton Abbey estate on the longest day.

Due to the coronavirus restrictions, this year's extravaganza can't take place in its traditional format.

But instead, people are being encouraged to run or walk a five-kilometre route of their choice on Saturday, June 20.

Participants can choose to run anywhere, observing social distancing rules, anytime between sunrise and sunset.

Everyone who completes the saunter will receive an exclusive medal – and if they wish, can submit their time to be recorded on a virtual event leaderboard.

Registrations costs £20, with all proceeds going to the Oxenhope Sue Ryder hospice. Entries are through Eventbrite, which charges a £1.79 processing fee.

The event – which last year raised about £20,000 – is organised by the Airedale Hospital-based running club Airedale Dodgers, and is sponsored by JB Springs.

Dr Chris Healey, for Airedale Dodgers, said: "We wanted to find something safe that everyone could enjoy whilst raising money for Manorlands.

"The hospice fundraising team would normally help, but due to furlough it was up to us!

"We thought we’d give everyone a chance to compete in a slightly different way, so this year the event has gone ‘virtual’."

Sue Ryder has been badly hit by the Covid-19 lockdown.

All its shops had to shut and a string of fundraising events have been cancelled or postponed.

Manorlands events hit have included the garden party, a zipwire, Paint Rush and the Keighley 10k and 5k.

An emergency appeal was launched by the charity in a bid to help offset the funding shortfall and keep its services operating.

Manorlands supports patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families at the hospice and in the community, across an area covering Craven, Airedale and Wharfedale as well as parts of Bradford.

All services are free to patients and their loved ones, but it costs £10,000 a day to keep the hospice doors open and only a small part of the cost is covered by statutory funding. Most has to be raised through voluntary donations.

Manorlands anticipates a funding gap of £1.5 million for this financial year.

Rachel Binns, head of fundraising at the hospice, said: "We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our local community over the past couple of months and would like to thank everyone who has supported our emergency appeal.

"We hope people will get involved with our virtual events, such as the Virtual Solstice Saunter, which offers an opportunity for everyone to support us and will hopefully go some way to making-up our shortfall in funds."

To sign-up for the event, visit sueryder.org/solsticesaunter.

Anyone wishing to organise their own fundraising activity for Manorlands can email [email protected]

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