MoonWalk trailblazer Lisa tells the story of the first ever MoonWalk London

I can’t wait to take part again in 2023, 25 years on from my first MoonWalk!

1998 – The very first MoonWalk London

Walk the Walk Founder Nina Barough entered a team for the London Marathon in 1998, but only half of her supporters received places. Undeterred, she created a one-off night-time Power Walking Marathon, ahead of the official London Marathon. The MoonWalk London was born! 

Lisa Ross was one of those MoonWalk trailblazers. Here’s her story:- 

“I took part in the very first MoonWalk London in 1998 – we had no idea how big it would become or how long it would last.

I can’t wait to take part again in 2023, this time with a group of friends and family including my 78-year-old Dad and my 18-year-old daughter. 25 years on from my first MoonWalk, I’m looking forward to wearing my celebratory silver bra with pride!

By the time the first MoonWalk happened, Walk the Walk’s Founder Nina Barough had already power walked several marathons raising money for breast cancer, while wearing a decorated bra. I read an article about Nina and was really touched by her story – I think it was because I never fancied running a marathon myself. Walking one seemed like a good option and wearing a decorated bra while doing it sounded like good fun! The magazine managed to put me in touch with Nina and I asked her to contact me if she organised another marathon walk.

Lisa (right) and Pauline in 1998, before the first bra auction

Nina did just that! On 26th April 1998, The MoonWalk London was born. I was among the group of 65 walkers who completed a marathon through London, starting at midnight, before handing over the “baton” to Nina’s supporters who had places in the official marathon. I walked this MoonWalk and many others with a girlfriend of mine – Pauline Crawford – we were amongst those MoonWalk trailblazers. Walking through the night was amazing - there are lots of night-time fundraising events now, but there weren’t back then. We were the first!

We had so much fun and that’s something which has been a real feature of every MoonWalk since. We met at The Organic Café beforehand and ate lots of pasta before setting off. We had a coach following us with a toilet on-board and we’d hop on and off to use the facilities. It was so different to The MoonWalk these days, which is on a much bigger scale!

My now husband and Pauline’s partner, met us at various points along the route during the night to support us, having been out partying! Pauline and I had done lots of training beforehand and then with no preparation at all, my dad who had planned to cheer us on, ended up walking with us the last fifteen miles. We had such a wonderful time.

Lisa (2nd right) with Pauline (3rd right) at Highgrove in 2001

When The MoonWalk started, everyone taking part in one of Nina’s fundraising walks had to get a celebrity to sign and design a special decorated bra. That was your “ticket” into the event, so to speak. The bras were then auctioned to raise money for research into breast cancer – that’s how we raised money back then, rather than through traditional sponsorship. My bra for the first MoonWalk was decorated in racing silks and signed by the jockey Frankie Dettori.

Later that year I went on to walk the New York Marathon with Walk the Walk, again with Pauline. By then I was three months pregnant with my first child and asked Pauline to be his godmother as I crossed the finish line!

I missed the second MoonWalk in 1999, because I was giving birth to my son, but returned the following year, pushing my son Alexander in his pram along with Pauline pushing her 4-month-old daughter, Darcey. The MoonWalk had started to get bigger and was really taking off!

Lisa’s “Barnes Babes” team heading to The MoonWalk London 2013

At the time, no-one close to me had been affected by breast cancer - I just wanted to take on some amazing challenges and have some fun. Breast cancer affects so many people and by raising money and awareness, The MoonWalk was really making a difference.

I was also so lucky to be involved in some other iconic events in Walk the Walk’s history. In 2001, I went to Highgrove for afternoon tea with the former Prince of Wales. We did a five kilometre walk to Highgrove wearing our decorated bras!

In 2008, Nina was presented with a Pride of Britain award for Fundraiser of the Year. A group of us wearing decorated bras walked along the South Bank in London to the television studios and we were asked to storm the stage, while Nina was getting her award. There were tears shed that night – it was so emotional!

Lisa in 2022

Looking back on the last 25 years of MoonWalking, it’s absolutely amazing how much money has been raised, over £137 million! The money has made such a difference to so many people and helped those living with cancer. At one event, I got to see the Cold Caps, which Walk the Walk provided for hundreds of hospitals – these machines help people avoid losing their hair during chemotherapy. I thought they were pretty amazing!

Nina had an idea, kept going with that idea and didn’t let it go. What she’s achieved since that first MoonWalk back in 1998 is simply remarkable. I’m thrilled to have played a small part in this incredible journey”.  

Thank you for sharing your story Lisa and we look forward to seeing you and your team at The MoonWalk London 2023

Come celebrate 25 years of MoonWalking with us at The MoonWalk London or The MoonWalk Scotland... Or, join us as a Volunteer!


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