A charity is urging people to walk in support of breast cancer care in the county at the 14th Crazy Hats walk.
The annual walk returns to Wicksteed Park in Kettering at 10.30am on Sunday, March 20.
Last year’s event raised £55,000 for the Wellingborough-based charity and helped it reach the £2 million raised in total since it started in 2002.
But while Crazy Hats is to continue raising money for breast cancer care at Kettering and Northampton general hospitals, money raised by this year’s event will be going towards a new project.
Charity founder Glennis Hooper said: “The money from this year’s walk has to go towards us finding new premises.
“Support is a big part of the charity now because of the number of people coming through the doors with breast cancer.
“We have noticed a rise in the number of people being diagnosed.
“It’s about the personal side of it because to come through that door and say you have got breast cancer is a big deal.
“Sometimes women have come straight from the hospital and need to speak to someone, but there is no privacy at our offices - it breaks my heart, they deserve better.
“In the long-run, we want to be doing the coffee and chat sessions two or three times a week and maybe an evening and a Saturday morning as well because a lot of ladies now work through their treatment.
“At the moment we can’t do more than one day a week.
“Having looked at what other counties do for breast cancer support, it’s about time that Northamptonshire had something quite special.
“We are saving, but we are appealing to landowners, developers and any companies that have any influence to help.
“Everybody wants it to happen.”
Glennis, who started the charity after being diagnosed with breast cancer herself, says they are seeing that people need more help than hospitals can give and said: “We want to create a facility for the people of Northamptonshire for breast cancer support that we have never seen but is so desperately needed.”
The Crazy Hats dream is to have a centre in Northamptonshire with an open-door policy where patients can pop in for advice, to chat or just have somewhere quiet to go.
It would be open to patients as well as partners and children.
They want it to be easily accessible with a big kitchen where everyone can sit round together, quiet rooms, therapy rooms, a craft room as another form of therapy and space for storage.
Glennis said: “We want everything under one roof.
“We want to create something like a Crazy Hats haven, a facility that will be massively used and lots of women and men will benefit from it.
“It’s exciting and personally it is my dream.”
Glennis said new premises would also allow them to apply for different grants which could help secure the charity’s future.
And she hopes the walk will help make the dream a reality.
Glennis said: “If your life has been affected by breast cancer, we are asking you to give up just one morning a year to think about yourself or a loved one going through it.
“When we did walk number one, we were one of the only sponsored walks in the county and we are here to stay.
“To think we are on number 14 is a credit to the public for supporting us and coming back year after year.
“But we want more people to come and join us.”
The five-mile walk can be completed over five laps of the short route or three laps of the longer riverside route.
Glennis said: “The snake of people going round the lake at Wicksteed is a brilliant sight and that really shows what we are about.
“When I am on the stage and looking down just before the countdown with thousands of eyes on you, it is quite something.”
Marilyn Clapham, the charity’s treasurer, said: “It’s a family friendly affair and everyone is there for a reason.
“It’s a lovely event with good facilities and the feel good factor.”
Entries have already started coming in for this year’s walk, with forms available from the charity’s office on the Finedon Road industrial estate in Wellingborough or via its new website at www.crazyhatsbreastcancerappeal.co.uk.
For more details call 01933 442999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.