Thousands walk for 'Quilts of Love' Aids memorial

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FOR MANY this was a fashion first: a walk. A real walk, with no cabs and no limousines in sight. A walk covering a distance further than the few yards separating Harvey Nichols and Harrods, heaven forbid.

It was awesome to see members of the fashion industry dragged from their beds at the hour of 11am - on a Sunday. As they trailed out of Waterloo Station in London, they winced at the sunshine, hiding their bleary eyes behind statement sunglasses. They wore red ribbons and joined hundreds of people gathering to walk for the Aids charities, Fashion Acts and Crusaid.

For many it was a moment of truth, learning that the sponsored amble was not the direct route to Hyde Park (barely two miles) but a more circuitous seven miles. Some cheered up, however, when they realised that the marathon would take them up Sloane Street and past their favourite Christian Lacroix.

'I do hope we get some Perrier on the way,' one fashion editor said wistfully. Some 2,500 people wandered off along the Embankment, and in five minutes were admiring their stamina and staying power.

Dogs, prams and roller-blading boys joined the procession. A few passers-by looked bemused by the 'pink parade' of gay men, all bronzed biceps and muscley legs in too-tight cut-off shorts and tiny T-shirts. The majority made it to Sloane Street in west London, slowing down to window shop.

The strung-out line of walkers, trailing white ballons proclaiming 'Walk For Life,' meandered into Hyde Park and towards the exhibition of Quilts of Love (made in memory of people who have died from Aids) which were laid out like tombstones on the grass.

The names of those lost to the disease were read out over a Tannoy. It was sobering and sad. Aching legs were forgotten, people remembered that they had just walked for life and they could do it again.

(Photograph omitted)