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Happy Birthday John Taylor

Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate John Taylor Hospice’s fifth Birthday Walk.

This year the hospice’s annual event had a bit of a difference – with the addition of a new 14 mile walking route and a Fun Day for all ages to enjoy.

The fun-filled occasion, held at the Hollyfields Centre in Erdington, saw families from across the West Midlands stepping out together to walk in memory of their loved ones and to support the work of the hospice.

Walkers could choose from either a 4.5 mile or 14 mile wheelchair, pushchair and dog friendly route. This year nearly 300 people brought a burst of colour to the streets of Birmingham as they pounded the pavements with John Taylor balloons in hand. 

The Dawson and Simmonds families had a very special reason to come together for this year's Birthday Walk. Brother and sister Rodney Dawson and Rosita Simmonds both died at John Taylor Hospice last year - just months apart.

Michael Simmonds, Rosita's husband, was at the Birthday Walk for the first time and was joined by daughter Estella and granddaughter Erin. He said: “My wife Rosita passed away in December. We couldn’t fault John Taylor as they were absolutely brilliant. Being there is like being at home. As a family the staff really looked after us and they still do.” 

Rodney’s wife, Clover Dawson, said: “Rodney was in John Taylor for about two and half weeks and passed away on 26 August 2015. He was in great spirits and still joking around right up until the day before he passed. We’re here to walk the 4.5 mile route as a family in Rodney and Rosita's memory and thank staff at John Taylor for everything they've done."

Joining the family on the walk was Rodney and Clover’s four-legged companion Buddy. “Everybody knows our dog Buddy at John Taylor," added Clover. "He was able to visit the hospice every day and even knew his own way to Rodney’s room! This made such a difference to my husband as he didn't want to be away from Buddy."  

After completing their route, walkers could carry on the celebrations at the family Fun Day. The party started at the Hollyfields Centre when the grounds were transformed into a funfair complete with candyfloss, hot food, donkey rides, inflatable slides, bouncy castles, go karts and a games area with hook-a-duck and hoopla.

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