TWO hugely popular events which attract fundraisers in their hundreds are set to clash.

The Starlight Walk in aid of the Colchester Hospitals Charity and the Midnight Walk, in aid of St Helena Hospice, are both set for Saturday June 23.

The awkward clash has been criticised by the Starlight Walk organisers who say their event - the tenth and final - has been publicised for a year.

St Helena Hospice says it didn’t know the events clashed until it was too late to change its plans.

Starlight Walk organiser Nicky Withycombe said: “I can’t believe they picked the same weekend as us, they never do that.

“Ours has been on the hospital website for a year and when they put theirs in the paper we realised.”

Mrs Withycombe said her walk, spanning ten miles and setting off from Playgolf in Lexden, has raised nearly £70,000 since it started.

Organisers have already paid out for insurance and road closures and informed police of the event, which sets off at 7.30pm.

She added: “We always have the same weekend at the end of June. They have theirs at the end of May or in the past maybe the first week of June so I can’t understand why they suddenly changed it.

“I am worried, we are always slow getting applications in, we have had about 40 so far. I want to remind people they have three more weeks to enter for £10 rather than £14.”

Mrs Withycombe said as it is their final year they hoped to “go out with a bang” and raise £100,000 overall.

“I am panicking, we are trying to get our marshals now because some do both events.”

“A couple of people that do ours but are doing the Midnight Walk this year due to bereavements, have said they will do half of mine, go home for a rest and go and do the other one.”

The Midnight Walk sets off at 10.30pm from Wyncolls Road, Colchester, and there is a three mile or 7.5 mile route around the north of the town.

Helen Causer, head of fundraising at St Helena Hospice, said: “The summer is a busy time for fundraising events, so it is always a challenge to pick a date in the calendar that is completely free.

“This clash is unfortunate but we only became aware of it after we had launched this year’s Midnight Walk.

“Late last year we had to change from the date we had in mind because it coincided with another big event.

“Like the Starlight Walk, St Helena Hospice’s Midnight Walk is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. It is always a popular event and over the last decade we have raised tens of thousands of pounds to help us with our work of supporting people with life-limiting illness to live well and die with dignity. We hope participants at both events have a successful and memorable evening.”

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