Hope House Children’s Hospices held their first Chirk Castle Dark Run on Saturday 19th October. Runners signed up to follow a 4k/2k route around the stunning grounds of Chirk Castle, in the dark. People came dressed in all things neon, complete with head torches to raise money to support their local children’s hospice. Every runner received a foam glow stick to wave along the route and once across the finishing line, they also received a unique glow in the dark Chirk Castle Dark Run medal designed especially for the event. Goody bags were handed out by volunteers containing crisps, chocolate, flapjacks and other goodies donated from local supermarkets and businesses including Brynmor Foods, Tesco Cefn Mawr, Morrison’s Wrexham and the Lion Quays.

The Dark Run was sponsored by six local businesses including Glyn Wyla Development Trust, Kronospan, Bowmed Ibisqus Ltd, Levercliff, Chirk Town Council and Brynmor Foods. Thanks to sponsorship from these businesses, every penny raised at the event will go directly towards caring for the children at Hope House and Ty Gobaith. “Every year, Hope House Children’s Hospices must raise in excess of £6.5 million and events like the Dark Run are fabulous in uniting communities and businesses to support local families who so desperately need our services” said Cat Dowdeswell, Area Fundraiser and event organiser. “Without sponsorship from these companies, we couldn’t put on such successful events and it’s been so reassuring to hear local businesses say yes when we have approached them for support. We cannot thank them enough”.

Every week, three local families face their biggest fear and their child dies. Tragically, Hope House can currently only afford to help one of those families. Their fervent belief is that no one should suffer the death of a child alone, and need events like this to make this a reality.

At the centre of the Dark Run was The Parry family who have shared their Hope House story in the hope that more people will understand how fundamental the services at Hope House and Ty Gobaith are. “Team Mia” were wearing their Mia T shirts and siblings Liam, Caiden and Kyle were there to celebrate her life. Their sister Mia passed away in November 2018 aged just four years old. The family have received support from Hope House Children’s Hospices throughout Mia’s life and continue to do so today. “I dread to think what it would have been like if Hope House wasn’t there”, Martine said, “It’s been wonderful seeing so many people come out in support of Hope House”. Liam Parry started the Dark Run with a 10 second countdown, then headed off at pace, to run the race in memory of his sister.

The Castle was lit up in the Hope House colours thanks to ORB Sound and Lighting from Llangollen and ensured the stunning National Trust property was visible for miles around. “Olli was a fundamental part of the planning for this event and knew exactly how to transform what was in my head into reality. It looked amazing and to have the Hope House logos projected on the castle was a piece of genius. We are so thankful to The National Trust for agreeing to work with us on this project, everyone at the castle has been amazing, especially Carl Green their Head Ranger.” said Cat Dowdeswell. “The businesses in and around Chirk have come together to help us put on this fantastic event too. Griffiths Tool Hire in Oswestry supplied the lighting in the car park to ensure everyone left safely and they couldn’t have been more supportive. Our gorgeous balloon arch was donated by the team at House of Party in Oswestry and it is the perfect finishing line for our runners”, Cat continued. “People have really responded to Mia’s story and we can’t thank them enough for being part of our Dark Run”.

Participants included teams from Roberts Brothers Funeral Directors, Pentre Broughton, Farm and Pet Place, Gledrid, LeverCliff in Chirk, Regent House of Flowers, Wrexham and my dentist, Kandy Lodge Dental Practice in Ruabon who have already raised over £2,000 between them. Runners paid an entrance fee and were encouraged to raise at least £10 sponsorship for Hope House. “We have been blown away by people’s fundraising at this event”, said Helen Jones, a volunteer from Wrexham Friends Group. “I just love events like this and am often found on the donations desk, it’s so moving to hear people’s reasons for raising money and people’s generosity is so touching”.

The event was supported by volunteers from Wrexham Friends Group, Orca Call Centre in Rossett, Rotary Club of Wrexham Erddig, cadets from 856 Chirk Air Squadron, HSBC in Oswestry, Hope House staff and many more from the local community. Chester University Events Management Student Megan Potter was also on hand to register participants, hand out medals and cheer runners on, “I spent five weeks working with the Hope House team as part of my second year at university and continued volunteering afterwards as I had witnessed first-hand the amazing care the team provides. The money raised from fundraising events like the Chirk Dark Run can make a difference to local families. It was clear how much everyone from runners to volunteers enjoyed themselves on Saturday and it was a great way for people to enjoy themselves whilst raising lots of money for such an amazing cause”. Two champion volunteers were Megan Price and Jamie Connolly who took on the roles of the Hope House Hound and the Hope House elephant, the first mascot manning the turnaround point and the second acting as the tail runner. “We are so thrilled to have so many volunteers helping us, it means the world to know we can rely on people to lend a hand and help generate such a fun atmosphere”, said Cat Dowdeswell.

The Chirk Dark Run is set to be a great success and has already raised over £8,000 for Hope House Children’s Hospices. The long standing sister event is being held on Saturday 26th October at the Telford Town Park and follows a similar set up. “Both events sold out a month ago, we couldn’t believe it. People go crazy for events like this and it’s so exciting. I loved taking part in the Chirk Dark Run with my family as I have been part of the organising team for the Telford event for 5 years. I couldn’t wait to actually run in this one and it’s been a cracking night”, said Lynsey Kilvert, Oswestry Area Fundraiser for Hope House.

For more information about Hope House Children’s Hospices and their events, please go to their website www.hopehouse.org.uk or contact their Fundraising Office on 01691 671671. For anyone wishing to donate to Hope House Children’s Hospices, you can do at this here https://www.hopehouse.org.uk/Appeal/donate.  All Dark Run photographs have been uploaded to the Hope House Facebook page www.facebook.com/HopeHouseandTyGobaith