A group of history buffs went the extra mile in aid of a hospice – inspired by the memory of a much-loved local councillor who spent his last days there.
More than 50 people turned out for the a 90-minute guided tour around Denbigh, exploring some of the town’s most historically interesting locations in aid of St Kentigern Hospice in St Asaph.
The walk was organised by Cllr Mark Young, who runs Denbigh Chocolate Shop in Vale Street, as a tribute to Cllr Ray Bartley.
Thanks to pound for pound match funding from the Denbigh branch of the HSBC bank, the event raised more than £2,000 for St Kentigern.
Cllr Bartley, who served on the town and county councils for many years, was the mayor of Denbigh five times.
He passed away as the hospice just before Christmas, two weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.
Cllr Young, who’s raised more than £26,000 for the hospice in recent years, was delighted with the turn-out for the heritage walk.
The guide was well-known former local GP and keen amateur historian Dr Chris Madoc-Jones, who provided a fact-packed commentary to accompany the trek and at the end a welcoming hot drink and cake was served by the Chocolate Shop.
The walk started from the old courthouse, now Denbigh Museum, and took in various local landmarks including the Evan Pierce Memorial, the site of the mediaeval priory and St Marcella’s Church.
The walkers were set their way by Cllr Ann Davies, the chair of Denbighshire County Council, who waved the Welsh flag as they departed.
She said: “I take off my hat to Mark for raising so much money for such a deserving cause, particularly as St Kentigern is one of my official charities.
“I was delighted to see such a great turn-out because the hospice relies on events like this to continue providing their vital services.
“The walk provided an ideal showcase for the fascinating history of Denbigh and my grand-daughter who took part enjoyed it immensely.”
Cllr Young said: “The excellent turn-out was a clear demonstration of the affection local people feel for the hospice, it’s an amazing place and a greatly-loved local cause.
“We had over 50 people taking part and 10 volunteers helped set the event up and with the drinks and cake.
“We were also joined by trustees and staff from St Kentigern, not to mention local business people and charities who all came to help.
“It’s great to see that community spirit alive and well here in Denbigh – it’s a template for the rest of the country.
“Sadly, I had a friend and work colleague who was in the hospice before Christmas and his family couldn’t say how well they were treated there.
“Ray was himself a trustee a trustee and a long-time supporter of St Kentigern which helped him and his family at a terribly difficult and heart-breaking time.
“According to the family, the staff at the hospice couldn’t have helped more, and every time they went back, all hours of the day, there was always someone with him, so he was truly cared for until the end.
“The people who work there are very special people who do a fantastic job in very difficult circumstances so we need to value and support the facility.”
It was a sentiment echoed by James Smith, the branch manager at the HSBC bank in Denbigh.
He said: “It’s really important to us at HSBC and us locally as branch managers to support local charities.
“I’ve worked very hard in that past with Mark on other local charities, so St Kentigern is close to our heart and it was great to get out there and support them as part a brilliant community effort.
“It was great to meet people who are customers and those who aren’t so we could hear their comments.
“We’re living in changing times in the banking environment and it’s very important that people learn to trust us again.
“That’s one of the key reasons to reach out to get people to know us and trust us and know that that we value them and they value us.
“St Kentigern provides an absolutely vital service. They do a wonderful job and make a massive difference to people’s lives at a very tough time, and they do it with a smile on their faces.”