Tiaras, feather boas, cowgirl hats and flashing bunny ears may not be that out of place on a Saturday night on Blackpool Promenade, but this weekend they could be seen in their hundreds for a very special reason.
The annual Illumathon saw nearly 1,000 women don trainers and red and silver sparkly T-shirts to walk five or 10 miles through the famous Illuminations in aid of Trinity Hospice.
Many had their personal reasons for taking part, others just wanted to show support and solidarity for a local good cause.
The event was officially started by Fylde coast singing sensation Linda Nolan, who lives in Blackpool and has had first-hand experience of the invaluable services the Bispham-based charity provides.
She recently lost her sister Bernie to cancer and told the crowds at the start of the sponsored walk how Trinity had helped her family.
Wearing a T-shirt with a photo of Bernie on the front, she told how Bernie had spent several weeks at the hospice after falling ill while on holiday in Blackpool.
Linda said: “They were amazing. All the family came in to see Bernie and they were really accommodating, moving us to a bigger room – it was like my Big Fat Gypsy Hospice!
“But the way they looked after her, and us, at such a horrible time was wonderful.
“We just can’t believe she’s not here, but it’s thanks to Trinity and all of you taking part in the Illumathon we were able to have those three weeks of special family time to spend with her.”
Shirley Morgan, from Trinity, said she was delighted with the turn-out once again for the event, now in its sixth year.
“It was so lovely to see how many women had turned out to give up their Saturday night to walk for us and make a difference. It makes you feel quite humbled, especially as so many have personal reasons for wanting to take part and were doing it in memory of a loved one or family member.
“We were lucky with the weather as the rain stopped just in time, but we always have a core of ladies taking part whatever the weather, who have done it every year.
“We are grateful to all who took part, as well as all who volunteered and our marshals.”
Radio Wave presenter Hayley Kay entertained the women while they gathered at the start line, along with The Kylie Show and fitness instructor Sarah Linton got everybody in the mood for walking with an energetic warm-up, joined on-stage by Linda Nolan and her family and friends.
Among those taking part were friends Maggs Sutcliffe and Jean McGuigan, from Little Eccleston, doing it for the first time. Maggs said: “We are part of Barry’s Zumba-ettes and we all decided to take part as a team. It’s good exercise and for a really good cause.”
Amanda Reynolds, from Blackpool and her twin sister Katie Sheppard, who lives in Bolton, were taking part with friend Alison Lincoln.
Amanda said: “My mother-in-law volunteers at Trinity Hospice and she started doing that after her husband was looked after there.
“She wanted to put something back and was so impressed with the care they give.
“We felt we wanted to support the event as we know what great work Trinity does.”
Julie Ilett and friend Ann Moulding, from Cleveleys, were having their sponsorship money matched by their employers Lloyds TSB.
Julie said: “We just wanted to do something for the community and everybody seems to know someone who has been helped in some way by Trinity.”