By Mick Jensen
Ashburton’s Relay For Life raised $133,000 for the Cancer Society over the weekend.
The event celebrates cancer survivors, remembers people lost to cancer and raises awareness and funds that are used for support services and research.
Held at the Ashburton Showgrounds, this year’s event featured 60 teams of walkers, slightly down on the 2015 event.
Walkers completed circuits of a track measuring 460m on the inside and teams were on the track from 4pm on Saturday until 10am on Sunday.
The event was opened by Ashburton mayor Donna Favel and included a karakia, Relay For Life pledge read out by Roger Bonifant and the cutting of a ribbon under a large symbolic purple arch by cancer survivor Libby Taylor and her daughters.
A poignant opening lap of the track by cancer survivors and their supporters was led by the Ashburton Scottish Society Pipe Band.
Cancer survivors wore purple sashes and their supporters green ribbons.
Mayor Favel said it was a “sombre reminder to see so many purple sashes.”
Organising committee chair Alison Driscoll said the event was about “fighting back” against cancer, “the cancer which affects so many of us”.
There had been a “great vibe” throughout the event, helped by the good weather, she said.
A lot of work behind the scenes by a number of volunteers had ensured the smooth running of the event.
A candlelit ceremony held at 9pm to remember those taken by various forms of cancer had been particularly well attended, said Mrs Driscoll.
All of those involved should feel very proud of their efforts, which helped to raise $133,000, with possibly more to come, she said.
Teams dressed to impress in an array of outfits and bright colours. Two impressive storm troopers kept a watchful eye over proceedings.
An entertainment programme, featuring a number of local performers, ran throughout much of the event.