HORDES of pink cowgirls and cowboys marched through Bolton at midnight to raise an estimated £100,000 for Bolton Hospice.
The eighth annual Midnight Memories event saw 1,000 walkers flock to Victoria Square wearing pink cowboy hats, flashing bunny ears and halos.
The event is the hospice’s biggest fundraiser of the year with walkers remembering loved ones and celebrating the hard work and dedication of hospice staff.
And the weather was kind to walkers at the end of the longest day of the year — in stark contrast to last year’s event which saw heavy downpours.
The night featured live entertainment, Bollywood dancing and a warm-up routine, before walkers set off from Victoria Square as the town hall clock struck midnight.
All money raised from the walk will help the hospice continue to provide care to terminally ill people and their families.
The event was attended by people who had lost a loved one or who had a friend or family member treated by the hospice.
This included Anita Gresty, aged 54, from Horwich, whose brother Nigel Rothwell was treated by Bolton Hospice before he died from cancer in December 2012, aged 56.
Mrs Gresty said: “The hospice were fantastic with Nigel. They treated him like a king — with total dignity and respect.
“When he was at the hospice, they let us have a party for his birthday and all the staff were terrific with him, so this is our way of saying thank you.”
Carol Roter, aged 50, from Westhoughton, took part in her second successive Midnight Memories walk, in memory of her step-brother Peter Hodgson, who died from cancer last year, aged 49.
Carol, who came dressed as Jessie from the Toy Story films, said: “This event was such good fun last year that I had to do it again.
“There are eight of us doing the walk and we had a target of £400, which we’ve more or less reached, so we’re very pleased.”
Carol Warburton, aged 43, of Breightmet, walked in memory of her father Wyn, who died in February.
She said: “It makes me very feel proud to be doing something like this. Most people here have felt some kind of loss and we’re all pulling together to help others. I'm hoping to raise about £500.”
Taking part in her first Midnight Memories was the Mayoress of Bolton Gay Wharton.
Mrs Wharton walked in memory of her friend Philomena Gilmore, who died from cancer in 2012, whilst being treated by Bolton Hospice.
She said: “It’s fantastic to see everybody here this evening, there’s a great camaraderie.
“This event is for such a worthy cause — I think Bolton Hospice does a fantastic job. They go out of their way to help people who are suffering in any way they can.
“With all the cutbacks, Bolton Hospice needs as much help as it can get, so Midnight Memories keeps it in the forefront of people’s minds.”
Maria Passarello, events manager at Bolton Hospice, said this year’s walk was expected to raise about £100,000.
She said: “This is our biggest fundraising event of the year. We have to raise £2.5 million to operate the hospice and two thirds of what we need to operate the hospice we have to get locally.
“Without Midnight Memories, we would really struggle to operate.
“We are very proud that Bolton people have supported a Bolton charity. There are lots of charities out there, so for so many people to support us is a special feeling.”
Andy Morgan, a trustee at Bolton Hospice, added: “What is so heart-warming for us is when people say our staff are amazing and they want to give something back.
“That means we are doing something right. It gives us a massive lift.”
Merchandise was on sale throughout the night, including flashing bunny ears, halos, wands, glasses and cowboy hats.
Walkers started with a warm-up from a Virgin Active instructor, before setting off in groups and receiving a medal and refreshments on their return to Victoria Square.
Bolton FM did a live broadcast during the walk.
The Midnight Memories Walk is supported by the community, local businesses, Bolton Council and Greater Manchester Police.
For more information on how to donate money to Bolton Hospice, call 01204 663055 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See more Midnight Memories pictures here.