Gallery: Clonaslee Hospice Walk on St. Stephen's Day

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Email:

lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie

A bright dry  St Stephen's Day this year brought walkers  out in their droves for the annual Clonaslee Walk for Laois Hospice.
The biggest crowd in many years could have donated one of the biggest amounts in years to the Laois charity, estimates Sheila Bourke, one of the co-ordinators.
 “We feel we were definitely at 800 to 900 people, between both walks. We feel ourselves that funding was way up, it was definitely a great success,” she said.
She is thrilled at how the day went.
“We had an absolutely wonderful fantastic day, one of our best walks ever. The weather, the crowd, the atmosphere, it all went smoothly, with not even a trip or fall or anybody getting lost,” she said.
The walks, a family friendly  3 miler around the beautiful Brittas Lake, and a bracing 10.4 mile hike up into the Slieve Blooms, were enjoyed by all ages she said.
  “Four young lads from 6th class in Clonaslee did the long walk, and they were so delighted with themselves after. And of course we have Fr Reilly in his mid 80s who did the long walk again this year,” Sheila said.
The event's success is down to the wide support it gets  from volunteers.
“There were people up doing the signage from Christmas Eve, setting up the hall, making sandwiches and cakes, cleaning up and helping on the day, we definitely have the guts of 50 to 60 volunteers, and the day wouldn't be such a success without all our generous sponsors too,” she said.
While many people prefer to set out earlier than the start time, the chairman of Laois Hospice Seamus O'Donoghue gave a speech before the official kick-off, explaining that all the money raised goes to supporting Laois people in the final stages of cancer.
“All the money raised stays in Laois. It is a cause that touches everybody,” said Sheila.
The  total amount raised will be announced in coming months, once all sponsorship money is returned.
 The annual walk was begun 24 years ago, and has  raised €850,000 for Laois Hospice over that time.
“Next year is our 25th, and we hope to do something bigger for that,” said Sheila Bourke.
See page 14 for photos.