Walkers turned out in force to show their support for Salisbury District Hospital at the Stars Appeal’s Walk for Wards at Wilton House.

On Sunday, July 7 over 2,000 participants registered to take part in the Stars Appeal’s flagship fundraising event.

Martin Starke, from Greatest Hits Radio, led the countdown before Dr Tracey Parker, consultant on the Pembroke cancer unit at the hospital and Stars Appeal ambassador, along with Stars Appeal President, the Earl of Pembroke, cut the ribbon to get the walk underway.

READ MORE: Sheiling College celebrate Ofsted specialist college rating of 'Good'

Dr Parker said: “It was magnificent to see so many people at Wilton House for Walk for Wards. Incredibly, the wet weather didn't dampen anyone's spirits, and the desire to support our lovely hospital was as strong as ever.

"It was, as always, very emotional to see the little messages affixed to our supporter's shirts, sharing why they are walking.

Your friendly neighbourhood Stars Appeal supporters!Your friendly neighbourhood Stars Appeal supporters! (Image: Simon Ward, Spencer Mulholland and Donald Capewell)

“The money raised will go towards a range of fantastic Stars Appeal projects, benefitting thousands of local people in our hospital. We cannot thank our walkers enough for their unwavering support. It’s simply amazing!”

Participants were walking 3k, 5k, or 10k to thank the Hospital for the care they or their family have received across various wards and departments, with some dedicating their walk in memory of a friend, parent, sibling or child.

There were walkers dressed in colourful outfits including some dressed as Star Wars characters and Spider-Man. A team from Wilton Fire Station did the 10k in firefighting gear. 

SEE ALSO: 'It couldn't have gone any better': Pre-school given new Ofsted rating

Francesca and Tim Evans were walking in support of the Neonatal Unit who cared for their now eight-month-old daughter Margaux, who was born two months premature in October 2023, and spent a month in hospital. During this time Francesca was able to stay with Margaux in the Stars Appeal parents’ accommodation.

Francesca said: “We wanted to thank all the people on the Neonatal Unit. I felt so lucky that I could stay on the ward with Margaux the whole time. Being able to be with her felt like I could be a mum from the very beginning, without the Stars Appeal it wouldn’t have been possible.

“It was a lovely walk and so fantastic to see parts of the Wilton Estate that we never get to see."

Andy Hockey, who had to have his leg amputated after being diagnosed with sepsis took on the 5k walk to say thank you for the care he received on Odstock Ward. It was the longest distance he had walked on his prosthetic leg.

After crossing the finish line, he said: “I’m proud I did it. It was the toughest challenge I’ve had since my amputation. It means so much to me to be able to do this because of everything the hospital has done for me.”

It is hoped the event, which is the 19th Walk for Wards, has raised over £100,000. Money raised will go towards the £1 million the Stars Appeal, Salisbury Hospital’s Charity, aims to raise this year to fund new equipment, enhancements to buildings, and ongoing projects supporting patients across Salisbury Hospital.

Projects the charity are currently fundraising for include six high-definition videoscopes to help diagnose head and neck cancer more quickly, costing £115,000, and £50,000 to provide 36 ‘by your side’ sleeper chairs so that vulnerable patients and those at the end of their lives can have a loved one stay by their side in comfort.

This is in addition to ongoing work such as support for patients with cancer, Stars Appeal Wi-Fi, and accommodation for parents whose children are being cared for on the neonatal unit, or the children’s ward to name just a few.

Walk for Wards is sponsored by Salisbury Reds and all the routes were marshalled by a team, which included local Rotary Club members, led by David Huckfield.

Event organiser, Helena Sinclair, added: “We want to say a massive thank you to everyone who took part in Walk for Wards. We also want to thank our hosts Lord and Lady Pembroke and the team at the Wilton Estate, our principal sponsors Salisbury Reds, David Huckfield and the Rotary Club marshals for their support, and all our wonderful volunteers.

"We look forward to seeing everyone again next year for our 20th Walk for Wards event!”

To find out more about projects funded by the Stars Appeal visit starsappeal.org. A date for Walk for Wards 2025 will be announced soon.