Thousands of women and children descended on Bury St Edmunds for the Girls Big Night Out hospice fundraiser, lighting up the streets with their bunny ears as they walked through the town.

%image(15342044, type="article-full", alt="Volunteers from the RAF Regiment at the event. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

The annual St Nicholas Hospice event, their biggest fundraiser of the year, set off on Saturday from the Angel Hill at 8pm, with people taking on a six or 11.2 mile routes.

Yvonne Glen, Val Neicho and Kerry Catchpole were three of around 50 people taking part from a Slimming World group, taking on the six mile distance.

Mrs Glen, 71, from Sudbury, said: “We lost a friend to cancer in February this and my husband died from a stroke in April,” she said. “Both my friend and my husband were supported by the hospice, and they were brilliant. It is a good way to remember them both.”

Mrs Glen’s husband George was a dentist in Sudbury, dieing at the age of 76.

%image(15342047, type="article-full", alt="Kerry Catchpole, Val Neicho, Yvonne Glen. Girls Night Out in Bury St Edmunds raising money for St Nicholas Hospice. Picture: MATT REASON")

Mrs Neicho, 64, also from Sudbury, said she came watched last year and was determined to take part in 2017.

“It looked like a great event and good fun,” she said. “So I wanted to do it this year.”

Also taking part were a group of 15 people from Hillside Special School in Sudbury, including Kay Harling, 50, and Angie Salisbury, 51.

“Cancer just effects so many people, all of us know someone who has suffered from it,” said Mrs Salisbury. “It is a fantastic charity to support.”

%image(15342049, type="article-full", alt="A group of walkers taking part in memory of Zena Butcher. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

Mrs Harling, who took part last year as well, said: “It was great fun last year, and I told everyone at the school about it and they said they wanted to do it next time.”

The Jones family from Mildenhall also took part, with hospice worker Ashley, his sister Jasmine and mother Bridget.

Mrs Jones said: “I have taken part three times. We are doing it in memory of my step dad, Geoff Greenstock. He passed away seven years ago from lung cancer.”

Also taking part was Teresa Claydon, mother of 24-year-old Sophie Claydon who died last month, after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

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The family received “incredible” support from the hospice since Sophie was diagnosed eight months ago. Teresa led the St Edmundsbury Borough Council team, where she and Sophie worked.

The event has raised an estimated £250,000 for the charity.

From 350 women to thousands

A total of 2,188 women and girls turned out for the event, despite the threat of rain.

%image(15342058, type="article-full", alt="The group from Hillside Special School in Sudbury. Girls Night Out in Bury St Edmunds raising money for St Nicholas Hospice. Pircture: MATT REASON")

Jenny Smith, events manager at St Nicholas Hospice, said: “When Girls Night Out first started we had around 350 walkers, now we have 350 marshals and volunteers and more than 2,000 women taking part, who between them will have walked more than 10,000 miles.

“It is always emotional to see the walkers set off from Angel Hill together and to see such wonderful community spirit across the town.

“Thank you also to everyone who supported the walkers by sponsoring them or coming out of their homes to cheer them on.

“Every year I am truly amazed and humbled by the amount of support Girls Night Out receives, we never take the support we receive for granted. The money raised is incredibly important because it helps us to continue caring for people and families facing long-term and life-threatening illnesses across west Suffolk.”

%image(15342060, type="article-full", alt="Chris's Team in memory of Christine Halliday. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342063, type="article-full", alt="The Bunny Girls from Elmswell and Barnham. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342066, type="article-full", alt="The "Are We Nearly There Yet" walkers from Mildenhall. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342070, type="article-full", alt="Slimming World groups from across the area gather outside the Abbey Gate. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342073, type="article-full", alt="Walkers taking part in memory of Amanda Wade from Great Cornard. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342077, type="article-full", alt="Forest and Elveden Primary Schools ladies. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342078, type="article-full", alt="The Adams Family from Bury St Edmunds. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342081, type="article-full", alt=""Swammys" swimming mums and family from Bury. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342084, type="article-full", alt="The Skaters - Amanda Bloomfield, Lisa Bourn, Lucy Clarke and Charlotte Bloomfield. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342085, type="article-full", alt="The X Rated girls from the West Suffolk Hospital. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342090, type="article-full", alt="The walkers get ready to set off from the Angel Hill. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT")

%image(15342092, type="article-full", alt="The At it Like Rabbits group from Newmarket. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342095, type="article-full", alt="The Sassy Striders from Bury with some of the "Water Boys". Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342100, type="article-full", alt="Joining in with the spirit were police officers Amy Hart, Mark Ellis and Adam Burroughs. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342102, type="article-full", alt="The Thetford Dolly Mixtures. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342104, type="article-full", alt="Linda Murrell and Andrea Hayes. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT")

%image(15342106, type="article-full", alt="Maddie Kingsmorth, Jennifer Miller and Frayer Kingsmorth from Stanton. Picture: ANDY ABBBOTT")

%image(15342108, type="article-full", alt="Flashing bunny ears illuminated the Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT")

%image(15342111, type="article-full", alt="More than 2,100 people took part in the Girls Night Out in aid of St Nicholas Hospice Care. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT")