Jadeen Lowe, community fundraiser,Â North Devon Hospice:
It wasnâ€™t just a walk and a beer. It was connection, reconciliation and relief.
North Devon Hospiceâ€™s Rugby Ramble charity walk was the last large-scale event we were able to stage before the national lockdown in March 2020.
It was a delight to hold that same event once more two weeks ago, but this time it had a vastly different meaning.Â
The format of the day seems comfortingly familiar; a nice long walk with friends, a beer-stop along the way, sharing a curry at the finish line, cheering on the Six Nations rugby together.
Except all those simple pleasures have been denied to us in some way over the last two years.
So when the 250 participants gathered for the 2022 Rugby Ramble, it felt extra special.
This was not just another charity walk. I saw friends reconnecting who had not seen each other in two years.
People felt the confidence to shake hands or even embrace for the first time in what must have felt like forever.Â
The beer tasted that little bit better, and watching England win felt even sweeter, just for the fact that we were enjoying it all together again.
Credit goes to everyone who helped make it such a memorable day.
Vital funds were raised for North Devon Hospice, at a time when such support has never been needed more.
Two years ago, the future of the charity and life as we knew it looked so uncertain, when we had to cancel all in-person fundraising events for the foreseeable future.
Since then, the community has shown incredible commitment and generosity, which has helped our nurses to carry on caring. But make no mistake, big challenges lie ahead.Â
Because of recent events, we will inevitably see a rise in the number of local people who have a life-limiting illness - such as cancer - and who need the support of the hospice.
This means providing more care to patients and families during the toughest times.
But if the scenes at the Rugby Ramble are anything to go by, I am optimistic that the North Devon community will come together and rise to the challenge, helping the hospice to be a shining light for those facing their darkest hour.
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