Flower headbands, glitter goatees and a whole lot of fairy lights Meet Emma, interim finance director at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice. Back in June, Emma took part in the Enchanted Midsummer Walk which saw hundreds of people walk a mystical 10k route across South Birmingham in memory of a loved one. Here, Emma talks about why she took on the walk to help raise vital funds and awareness for hospice care… This is actually my second Enchanted Midsummer Walk – my first was in 2018 which I completed with my sister and two best friends. The only difference was that this year, my Dad decided to get involved too because he’d seen how much we had enjoyed it. In fact, he was determined to beat our time from 2018. At first I was worried about him being able to keep up with us but honestly, it was the other way round – we were struggling to keep up with him! It was fantastic to see him get into the spirit of the evening though, especially when he let me put glitter in his goatee! I think the Enchanted Midsummer Walk is such a wonderful event because it brings local people together to remember their loved ones. The atmosphere is really special – there’s a lot of happiness and joy and only a hint of poignancy. It’s amazing to see so many people come together and celebrate their loved ones in a truly unique way. My sister and I love dressing up for the walk so we always try to have fun with our costumes. Lots of people will dress up as mythical creatures – from fairies to spectacular butterflies – but for us, it’s a great excuse to bring out our glittery, flowery, bunny-eared headbands (because no walk for Birmingham St Mary’s would be complete without them!). I always love seeing the costumes that other people are wearing too. This year, my sister whispered excitedly to me “that’s our outfit for next year” as she pointed to a woman who was dressed head-to-toe in fairy lights. I don’t know whether it was her smile or her outfit but she was literally glowing with pride whilst taking on the walk. It’s these little things that make the walk so magical – there’s just something special about everyone coming together in ridiculous outfits to raise money for a charity that has touched so many people’s lives. The walk is also a great way for us to spend quality time together as a family. In fact, I think that’s what I love most about these events – as well as raising money for the charity, they give us an excuse to get together and do something we can all enjoy. I know that a lot of people take part in things like this in memory of a loved one – and for me, it’s a special way of remembering my mother-in-law – but the walk is also a chance for our family to get together, do something silly and most importantly, have fun. I will admit though that I can get quite emotional whilst doing the walk, especially if I see a group of people with a loved one’s name on their t-shirt or a person who is walking alone. You can’t help but wonder who that person is or what their story is. Of course, another reason I like to take part in the walk is because I work at the Hospice. Working for a charity is completely different to working anywhere else because everything I do is for the benefit of the patients and their loved ones. This is the reason that I’ve always wanted to work with charities because it’s a wonderful feeling to know that the money I manage with the rest of the finance team is going straight into the care of the patients we support. I think it’s good for us staff to take part in events such as the Enchanted Midsummer Walk because they help us reconnect to the people we support. When I’m at work, I will sometimes take a look at the Hospice’s garden and will often see patients sitting there, enjoying the sun with their families. I’ve even seen some little girls in bridesmaid’s dresses dancing around a patient and their family. It’s moments like this, and the ones I’ve experienced on the Enchanted Midsummer Walk, that really bring home the importance of what we’re doing when we’re tucked away in our little offices. For staff at the Hospice, I think that taking part in these events is about more than just remembering a loved one - it’s about remembering the reason why we chose this career path in the first place. To anyone else who is considering doing one of these events, I would say do it! Whether you’re taking part because you want to celebrate the life of someone special or just walking because you want to dress like a fairy and think it looks fun, the Enchanted Midsummer Walk is a really fun event that everyone can take part in. Thank you Emma for sharing your story with us. If you would like to get involved in any of our fundraising events, including our Enchanted Midsummer Walk, then please take a look at the exciting events we’ve got planned for the next year.