Men will be welcomed to join in for Aylesbury's Midnight Walk, a charity 5 to 10 mile event, for the first time, in 2018.
Despite anticipating some controversy, the Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity, who organised the annual fundraiser, say that the change has been received positively.
"We asked the public whether they would like the event to be opened out to men and boys as well as women and girls,” explained Jo Turner, head of fundraising at Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity (FNHC). “We ran a survey in November and December last year, and 80% of the respondents said they would like men to be allowed to take part."
One respondent to the survey was fearful the change might affect the unique atmosphere of the event. They said: “It's nice to celebrate with girlfriends in a relaxed atmosphere. I feel that may change and become more competitive,”
Many comments, however, pointed out that men also benefit from the work of the hospice, and have reason to raise awareness. One comment added: “Men also lose loved ones to cancer or suffer from cancer just the same as ladies."
Responding to the results, the FNHC Events team decided that the 2018 Midnight Walk should be open to everyone over the age of 11 on the 23rd June.
The Charity also asked survey respondents if they would prefer to keep the distance options the same, or change them to a 5 mile route and a 10 mile route.
Jo added: “54% of respondents to our research said they would prefer a choice of five miles or ten miles, and so we have decided to trial these distances.
"This means that the routes will change significantly, and although we are still at the planning stages, it seems likely that the ten mile route will go via Weston Turville and Aston Clinton, while the five mile route will split off the Wendover Road and go down Bedgrove, returning via the A41.”
The new look Midnight Walk will take place on 23 June 2018, starting and finishing at Aylesbury College.
The Midnight Walk is FNHC’s largest fundraising event and last year raised over £55,000 with 475 Walkers dressed in the event’s iconic dayglo pink T-shirts and flashing bunny ears.
The money raised by Midnight Walkers makes a huge contribution to enable Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity to continue to provide services to patients with life-limiting illnesses at the Hospice and at home, and this year the Charity hopes the changes to the event will increase the number of Walkers and the amount raised for the Hospice.
Anyone registering before 31st January can take advantage of the Early Bird Offer at just £17 (after 1st February it’s £20). Walkers receive a free souvenir Midnight Walk 2018 T-shirt, as well as a medal and complimentary breakfast at the end of the Walk.
For more information and to sign up, please visit http://www.fnhospice.org.uk/midnightwalk