Bark in Park - St Catherine’s Hospice fundraisers put their best paw forward

Rebecca Jackson (left) and April Thompson with St Bernard Ned, cavalier cross terrier Mia and labrador Woody
Rebecca Jackson (left) and April Thompson with St Bernard Ned, cavalier cross terrier Mia and labrador Woody

As many as 84 dogs helped raise more than £700 for St Catherine’s Hospice with sponsored dog walk ‘Bark in the Park’ at Chesworth Farm.

More than 200 supporters of the charity and dog-walking enthusiasts set off on the 3km route despite grey skies over the bank holiday weekend.

Helen Clinch and Allan Spraggon with greyhound Mo

Helen Clinch and Allan Spraggon with greyhound Mo

Coinciding with National Dog Day on August 26, and celebrating 30 years of St Catherine’s Hospice, community fundraiser Gabi Field said it was ‘great’ and ‘really exciting’ to get local dog owners involved in such an event.

“It’s the first time [Bark in the Park] is happening at Horsham,” said Gabi, highlighting the potential that dogs have for charity fundraising.

“I think as far as I’m correct we are the first to do a sponsored dog walk here. There are so many people in Horsham and in the outside villages that have dogs as well, and people are always walking their dogs, to get them involved in something as well is great.”

The event attracted a wide variety of dog-owners and families. Proceeds from the walk will go towards the hospice, which provides care for local patients and their families in Sussex and Surrey.

Alison Bennett, marketing and communications manager for the hospice, said that the charity is dedicated to caring for people with terminal illnesses. “We look after a broad range of adults across Surrey and Sussex,” she said.

“We have care in our in-patient unit, in our day hospice and we care for people in the community as well,” added Gabi. “Each year St Catherine’s has to raise £5.5 million - £15,000 a day - in order to provide the service in our area.”

For Warnham resident Lara Barnett, 46, attending the walk with her dog Meg was a ‘no-brainer’. “From a personal point of view, my father was in the hospice and [I’ve] just been supporting St Catherine’s ever since really,” she said.

“It’s a great charity to support because you just never know when you’re going to be needing it,” added Melanie Dale from Horsham, owner of an English Pointer named Pin.

Dave Foord, 46, from Horsham, was asked if the thought the poor weather conditions have put people off attending.

“Not at all; when you have a dog you go out in all weathers anyway,” he said, pointing to pet Clyde, a Parsons Jack Russell.

“I think dog walkers do always come out in all sorts of weather so that’s always a bonus,” said Gabi. “Chesworth Farm have been great at letting us have the venue here,” she added.

The event was sponsored by Maltman Cosham Veterinary Clinic in Slinfold. The charity expects an increase in the total amount raised as further sponsorship is counted.