HUNDREDS of walkers enjoyed the spring sunshine in the countryside as thousands were raised for an important Essex charity.

On Sunday, more than 600 walkers took part in Farleigh Hospice’s Walk for Life.

The Walk for Life is an important fundraising event for the Essex charity.

Gazette: Pose - Farleigh Hospice staff and volunteers cheering on the finishersPose - Farleigh Hospice staff and volunteers cheering on the finishers (Image: Farleigh Hospice)

The charity provides specialist care and support, free of charge, to people affected by life-limiting illnesses and bereavement across mid Essex.

Many people were taking part in memory of a relative or friend who had been cared for by Farleigh.

Gazette: Wave - walkers enjoying the dayWave - walkers enjoying the day (Image: Farleigh Hospice)

Those taking part were taking along the scenic towpath of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation between Heybridge and Chelmsford.

The family-friendly event attracted walkers of all ages, many with their dogs.

Gazette: Picturesque - walkers at Sanford MillPicturesque - walkers at Sanford Mill (Image: Farleigh Hospice)

Some went on a 12km stroll that started at Paper Mill Lock in Little Baddow while others went on a longer 24km hike from Heybridge Basin.

Gazette: Happy - walkers at the start of the 24km route at Heybridge BasinHappy - walkers at the start of the 24km route at Heybridge Basin (Image: Farleigh Hospice)

Both routes finished at the car park of Teledyne e2v in Waterhouse Lane, Chelmsford.

Stefan Todman, 18, from Danbury, was one of the first to finish the 24km route.

Gazette: Smiles - Stefan Todman enjoyed the scenery during his walkSmiles - Stefan Todman enjoyed the scenery during his walk (Image: Farleigh Hospice)

He said: “I would definitely recommend Walk for Life to others.

“I liked the scenery. It was good exercise and I’m happy to support Farleigh Hospice.”

Claire Barker, from Maldon, completed the 12km ramble with five others in memory of her husband Paul.

Gazette: Group - Claire Barker (front) with friendsGroup - Claire Barker (front) with friends (Image: Farleigh Hospice)

He spent time in Farleigh Hospice for pain management and Claire has also received bereavement support.

She said, “The route was very well-organised with encouraging marshals and you could go at your own pace.

“Paul had amazing care from Farleigh and we’ve raised £600 so far.”

Tom Booth-Woodger’s mum, Marion, was cared for by Farleigh for two years, including physiotherapy and help with her medication, before spending the last three weeks of her life in the charity’s Inpatient Unit in Chelmsford.

Gazette: Fundraiser - Tom Booth-Woodger (centre) with Team MarionFundraiser - Tom Booth-Woodger (centre) with Team Marion (Image: Farleigh Hospice)

The five members of Team Marion came from as far as London and Wales to walk the ‘absolutely brilliant’ 24km route, raising more than £2,500.

Debbie de Boltz, head of fundraising at Farleigh Hospice, gave a "big thank you" to all those who took part in what was described as a "special event".

Gazette: Framed - Keith Larkin, Carole Randall, Adam Birchweaver and Pascia Birchweaver with dog HoneyFramed - Keith Larkin, Carole Randall, Adam Birchweaver and Pascia Birchweaver with dog Honey (Image: Farleigh Hospice)

She said: “Farleigh Hospice is a charity which couldn’t exist without the support of our local community and so we are very grateful to everyone who asked their friends and family to sponsor them or gave a donation.

“We hope to have raised over £50,000 today which will make such a difference to the people we help.

“It is days like these, when we see such a wonderful number of people coming together to support their local hospice, that make us realise how much we mean to our local community.”