What began as a simple sponsored walk became a collective walk against cancer for a group of 48 charity fundraisers from Cumbria.
The 66 mile, two day walk from Penrith to Newcastle was organised by Martyn Haughan in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation as a thank you for the care his friend John Raynes had received during his cancer treatment.
And, as more and more people became involved, it became clear that most of the group had personal reasons to raise money to help fight cancer.
They pushed themselves to the limit, enduring blisters and lost toenails but it was all worthwhile when it was announced they had raised over £18,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
The announcement came at a celebration event on Friday (21st March) at the Stoneybeck Inn, Bowscar. More than 100 people came together to join in the celebrations, raising further money for the Foundation with ticket sales, a raffle and an impromptu sponsored head shave.
Martyn, aged 40 from Penrith, says: “This was something I wanted to do for John. It’s been a long fight for him, and thankfully he was well enough to walk a few miles with us which was great.
“It started with a small group of us who know John and wanted to do something then more and more people got involved. Before we set off, and even on the walk itself, we began hearing so many other stories about cancer. It’s a disease which seems to affect everyone in some way.
“On the one hand it was really hard to hear what people were going through or had been through because of cancer, but on the other hand we all felt we were doing something really positive about it.”
John Raynes, 39 from Penrith, has just been given the all-clear after twice battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
He says: “I can’t put into words how much this walk means to me. I couldn’t believe it when they said they’d walk so far.
“It was very emotional, especially at the end. Everyone really pushed themselves. It was incredible really.
“People who had lost relatives to cancer, who said they’d always meant to do something to help, they saw this as their chance. I’m proud of everyone involved.”
The walkers set off from Penrith on Saturday 22 February and, after an overnight stay in Hexham, completed the walk at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle the next day.
Nine walkers managed all 66 miles while the others pushed themselves to the limit of their capabilities to raise money for the charity Sir Bobby launched in 2008 and which directly benefits cancer patients in the North East and Cumbria.
They were met en route at Prudhoe, Northumberland, by Professor Ruth Plummer.
Professor Plummer was Sir Bobby’s oncologist, is a trustee of the charity and is Director of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre.
Professor Plummer says: “The walkers were really feeling the miles by the time I met with them. It was obviously an extremely tough challenge and everyone did incredibly well to get through it.
“On behalf of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, I’m very grateful to everyone involved in the walk and to each and every person who donated to support them. We’re amazed by how much has been raised and will ensure the money is put to the best possible use.”
Liz Luff from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation received the cheque for the charity at The Stoneybeck Inn.
She says: “It was a great privilege to be in the room when the fundraising total was announced.
“The sense of togetherness in the room was something very special. Martyn, each of the walkers and the support team have done John and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation very proud.”