THOUSANDS of people are expected to take to the streets of London in May to raise money for breast cancer charities when an event organised by a Sheerwater-based charity returns.

The MoonWalk has not been held for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Staged by Walk the Walk, it was last held “live” in 2019 – pictured in the photographs on this page.

Last year, the charity that has given more than £134million to breast cancer groups and research projects held a virtual MoonWalk, with participants following their own routes on their own or in small groups.

This year, the mass night-time power walk, for which many of the participants wear decorated bras, will start and end at Clapham Common as in previous years but with a few changes.

Nina Barough, the founder and chief executive of Walk the Walk, said walkers are being asked to do a lateral flow test on the morning of the event and stay away if they have COVID, but they will not be required to be vaccinated.

There will not be the usual huge pink tent, to avoid people having to crowd together under a roof.

The event will still be exactly the same,” said Nina. “We’ve got a big stage and Gaby Roslin, the TV and radio presenter, is coming to host for the night.

“She’s done many of our challenges and has been supporting us for many years, so I’m absolutely thrilled that’s she’s agreed to come and host the night and cheer everybody off.

“We’ll still have loads of things going on but it just won’t have a roof over it.”

Nina said facemasks would not be compulsory, but participants are welcome to wear one, especially in the most crowded part of the MoonWalk base, such as the food queues.

“I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable if they did want to wear a mask,” she added.

Nina said she hoped the London MoonWalk, which will be followed by one in Scotland in June, would mark the beginning of the end of a very difficult time.

“We’ve not been able to hold an event for two years and that’s had a dramatic impact on our fundraising and our ability to support really essential causes.

“The most important thing was that the event would go ahead in the safest way possible. Making changes while organising an event on the scale of the MoonWalk is a little bit like moving a tanker. You can’t spin on a sixpence.”

Nina wasn’t sure how many will be present at the MoonWalk on Saturday 14 May, but said it would be “quite a few thousand” although less than in previous years because some people are a bit wary of being in big crowds.

Partly for that reason, there is a virtual daytime option which people can do from near their homes or anywhere else. This version has four different distances, from the 6.2-mile New Moon to the double-marathon-length 52-mile Over the Moon which can be done over two days.

The walkers in London have the choice of the traditional Full Moon, covering a marathon-length 26.2 miles or the Half Moon Plus, which is two miles longer than the usual half marathon option to make for a more pleasant route.

“Whether it’s the virtual event or live one, it’s so important that people take part and support those people living with cancer,” Nina said.

“People have been quite fearful about going to see their doctor or hospital because of COVID and the result is that there is a much higher percentage of secondary cancers being diagnosed, which has a much more intense treatment and impact.

“The demand for physical and emotional support has grown phenomenally. A lot of clinicians are saying that this will have an impact on cancer for the next five to ten years.

“Of course, most people’s attentions are on Ukraine or their heating bills and the spotlight is not on people with cancer. Given that one in four people have cancer that is quite a problem.

“MoonWalk acts as profile-raising for cancer. It’s a lot of fun, very colourful and bright but the serious underlying tone of that is ‘nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something’.

“This could be making a donation or come along on the night and volunteer; we really need volunteers.

“Whether they want to do a 10k walk from their house with their children or grandchildren; it doesn’t matter what it is, it is about doing a little something that will make a difference.

“We are in very difficult times and there are some terrible things going on but we really do have a problem on our hands with people’s treatments and the level of secondary cancers that are being diagnosed.

“Walk the Walk wants to do whatever we can to improve people’s quality of life.”

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