The actress speaks about why fundraising is essential for local charity
Breezing in like a breath of fresh air, Olivia Nash brought her usual light-hearted touch to the start of the very first spring Hospice Walk on Saturday.
The Co Antrim comedienne and star of much-loved show Give My Head Peace has been part of the annual fundraiser for over 25 years.
And after a two-year hiatus due to Covid, she is urging more people than ever to put their best foot forward for the charity this year.
A first for 2022, Hospice will be hosting a series of walks every Saturday through May and into June.
Traditionally walked over two days, the charity’s vice president and Ambassador Olivia is thrilled more people will get a chance to take part this year.
“It’s terrific to be back,” she enthuses.
“The walks are wonderful and have such a great atmosphere.
“This year more than ever it is sorely needed.
“As with all charities, money is tight after Covid and especially with the new hospice opening there is the expenditure of that and the day to day running costs of the place.
“It’s great to get our sponsors Causeway Coast Holiday Park on board otherwise it wouldn’t happen.
“We need people to get sponsored to do it and you don’t have to do the walk itself, but you can still give money.”
Originally from Larne, Olivia has lived in Belfast for many years to be close to her daughter Patricia and grandchildren Gabriel, Daisy and Livi.
Now in her 70s, she has enjoyed an acting career which has spanned over 50 years and has a proud history in theatre as well as TV, having worked alongside such legends as Kenneth Branagh and James Young.
She is currently back on tour bringing the house down at venues across the province with her hilarious and now iconic character Ma in Give My Head Peace.
This time two years ago she had just started a tour when the pandemic shut theatres down.
Her focus now though is on hospice. She admits that it was through a friend that she first visited the NI Hospice over 20 years ago.
Immediately she was impressed and has worked hard ever since for the charity, attending local committee functions to give talks and helping out whenever she can at events.
Hospice Walks is a particular favourite and one she made her own many years ago when she created the character Mrs Walker.
She explains: “I would have dressed up in all these ridiculous costumes; one was with all the hiking gear and a ginormous big haversack on my back.
“I have arrived in a helicopter, a fire engine and one of those limousines that you can go for a walk in. It is all just a bit of fun.”
Sponsorship and much-needed funds are foremost in her mind as she prepares to take part in the first walk at Divis Mountain this Saturday.
She adds: “Because we are doing them for so many weeks this year hopefully people will take part in more than one.
“There are so many ways to raise money. Hospice does an amazing job.”
The 2022 Hospice Walks will take place in seven beautiful locations across Northern Ireland including the North Down Coastal Path, Larne Coastal Route, Lagan Tow Path, Woodburn Reservoir, Ballycastle and Portstewart.
For those who wish to push themselves to new heights, challenge walks will also be taking place at Slieve Donard, Cuilcagh Boardwalk and Cavehill.
This year marks the 41st anniversary of Hospice Walks which raise much-needed funds for the charity that helps support the care of babies, children and adults living with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses.
For full details of all the walks and to register go to nihospice.org/walks