Westbrook counsellor gets ready to take on firewalk for Pilgrims Hospice

Chris tackles the firewalk

Chris Laming, from Westbrook, will take on her fifth Firewalk for Pilgrims Hospices next month.

After completing her first Firewalk in 2016, she became hooked; saying each walk leaves her feeling inspired and proud to support her local hospice charity.

Chris, who works as an administrator at the University of Kent in Canterbury and is also a qualified counsellor, chooses to support Pilgrims for a very personal reason.

She said: “A close family friend was cared for by Pilgrims four years ago and I was incredibly moved to hear his family speak so highly of the dignified and compassionate care both he and they received in his final days, and the comfort that brought them in the depth of their loss.

“As a counsellor, I see clients whose grief and loss has become complex and traumatic, often because the practical and emotional support they needed at the time simply wasn’t possible. But significantly, too, we simply don’t talk openly enough about death and bereavement; so misconception and fear prevent us from making the most of the time we have left.”

Chris heard about the charity’s Firewalk event and felt inspired to challenge herself whilst giving back at the same time – and she hasn’t looked back since.

She said:“I can’t lie, I’m now totally hooked! From that very first walk I’ve been like ‘a moth to the flame’ so to speak, taking part every year and feeling just as inspired and proud of what I’m achieving, both personally and for Pilgrims, with every single walk.

“The camaraderie and mutual support from other participants on the night is absolutely incredible; it’s an awesome experience and a totally unique challenge.”

“I’m also fortunate to have an amazingly supportive family and close friends who always get behind me, and though I haven’t convinced many of them to join me yet, they are always encouraging and incredibly generous with their sponsorship.”

Driven by a belief that better end-of-life care is possible for everyone, and that dying should be talked about more openly, Chris hopes her fundraising will help families to feel informed and empowered in the time they have left together.

She said:“It’s my passionate belief that holistic services that support the needs of people facing terminal and life-limiting conditions (and their families, carers and friends) are an absolute necessity.

“Pilgrims helps to make all these things possible, but without support from local communities these invaluable services wouldn’t exist. If we want them to continue then we have to do something about it, and that’s where people like myself can make a real difference.”

“The fact that this is my fifth Pilgrims Firewalk and I haven’t spontaneously combusted yet might just be encouragement and reassurance enough for those teetering on the brink of registering! Life is far too short not to take chances or step out of your comfort zone.

“Although I’ve done firewalking before, I know that when I’m standing at the start of that runway and it’s my turn next, it’s going to be just as much of a challenge as it was the first time around. But the whole experience and sense of achievement is totally exhilarating – you’ll never regret it.”

You can sponsor Chris by visiting her JustGiving page: at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chris-laming1

Take part

Feeling inspired to follow in Chris’ footsteps and face the flames? Firewalk returns on March 13 in Canterbury and  March 14 in Ashford.

Visit pilgrimshospices.org/firewalk to sign up now to dash across red hot embers and achieve the impossible. Advance entry is £20, available until March 8. You can also sign up on the night.

Entry includes training seminar, firewalking experience and certificate.