On Friday 15 May, over a hundred people will be completing 5,000 sponsored steps to raise money for local charity, Treetops Hospice Care.

‘Starlight Steps’ has already raised over £2,800 in sponsorship and donations with people signing up to walk, jog and even bounce the 5,000 steps in their homes and gardens, along with their dogs, families, partners and by themselves.

The event is taking place on what was the original date of the charity’s largest annual fundraiser, the Starlight Strut, now postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Treetops, which provides nursing care and emotional support for adults with life-limiting conditions and their families, is doing all it can to continue to support those in need during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Jeremy Elvins, 52, from Ashbourne has signed up to Starlight Steps to support Treetops where he received bereavement counselling following the death of his wife, Heidi Markwell.

She was a fantastic mum

“Heidi was a senior staff nurse and worked for Nuffield Health in Mickleover as a pre-assessment nurse. She was a fantastic mum to our two daughters, Amelia and Harriet. She was the leader of a local Brownie pack and was very involved in the community.

“She suffered from Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) and ended up having a liver transplant in February 2016. Unfortunately, they discovered after the operation that she had bile duct cancer. Even with the new liver and chemotherapy, the cancer ultimately spread because the anti-rejection drugs stop the body’s own defences from working. We were able to care for her at home and she passed away in 2017.

Counselling helped me through a very difficult time

“I heard about Treetops from a friend who was a GP in Melbourne. He recommended Treetops for bereavement counselling as he had received many good reports from his own bereaved patients.

“The counselling helped me through a very difficult time and helped me to start functioning again. It’s been a very bumpy road with both my daughters now at university, but knowing the support from Treetops was there, helped a lot. They were lovely people in a relaxed and lovely location.

“I know quite a few of the widows in Derby (through WAY “Widowed and Young” (under 50s) Group) have attended the weekly Treetops Wellbeing Café and it has helped bereaved people through difficult times so a big thank you to Treetops.

“I know how hard it was when my wife was ill but can’t imagine how much harder it is for families and patients during this COVID-19 outbreak. I wouldn’t want any of them to not get the support they need from Treetops.”

The ‘Treetops Retail Gang’ have also signed up to Starlight Steps – a team made up of 25 of the charity shop staff, currently on furlough whilst the shops are temporarily closed.

Starlight Steps is a way we can help

Paul Sheldon, Duffield charity shop manager, said:

“Because we can’t be at work, not being able to raise money for Treetops through the shops is very hard for us to accept. Starlight Steps is a way we can help while at the same time giving us something to focus on and keep in touch.

“Everyone from the Retail Gang who is taking part is doing it at their own convenience and taking pictures and videos which will be posted on Facebook. On the day I’ll be walking around the Belper River gardens with my family and dogs.

“We’re all missing the shops very much! I love my job and I’m missing my assistant Tamara, my volunteers and all our customers. Some customers used to come into our shop every day and it’s a social part of the village in Duffield but we all know there was no other option than to close temporarily – people’s health and wellbeing is paramount.”

It’s quick, easy and free to take part

Lorraine Ray, fundraising events lead, said:

“There’s still time to sign up and take part in Starlight Steps. It’s quick, easy and free to take part and a fun way to get your daily exercise.

“You can do the 5,000 steps however you want – the choice is yours. You could walk, jog, run, bounce, dance, hop, skip or jump – inside or outside – at any time of the day or night on Friday 15 May.

“But most importantly, please help us make each and every step count, by asking your family and friends to sponsor you.”