A group of thirteen friends from Worthing have set themselves the mammoth task of walking 60 miles in just over two days to raise thousands of pounds for a charity close to their hearts.
Christopher Smith has organised the walk from Sydenham to Worthing, which starts tomorrow, in honour of his wife Charlotte Smith, nee Robinson, who grew up in Worthing.
After a year-long battle with breast cancer, Charlotte died in April, the day after her 37th birthday.
Christopher said: “Charlotte was an incredibly thoughtful and loving lady who, in her last few months, wrote religiously in her journal about her wish for family and friends to keep fundraising with walks and runs.”
So the group have resolved to walk the equivalent of more than two marathons to try and raise £5,000 for St Christopher’s Hospice, where Charlotte was treated in the last few months of her life, having discovered her cancer was terminal a week before Christmas last year.
Starting at the hospice in London, the walk will finish at St Mary’s Church in Goring where Charlotte is laid to rest.
Christopher said of the hospice: “The staff helped Charlotte with emotional, physical and spiritual support.
“Even when she was discharged, we continued to visit a couple of times a week for counselling and physio and then, later in our journey, they would visit us at home. In fact, they are still supporting Charlotte’s family and I now.
“Without this amazing charity the last few months would have been very different.”
Charlotte’s brother, Jez Robinson, who also grew up in Worthing but now lives in Hove, will join his brother-in-law on the walk.
Jez said of the challenge: “As 13 orienteering novices, I think it is fair to say that this is going to be a real test.
“We will try and fit a few miles in after work on the Friday but the real challenge will be on the Saturday, when we plan to walk a foot-crippling 28 miles.
“However, we are determined to complete the challenge and raise awareness, not just in honour of Charlotte but for all those people and families who rely on the hospice’s fantastic staff and facilities just like we did.”
He said of Charlotte’s experience at the hospice: “From the moment she stepped foot in the hospice, it became her beacon of hope.
“The incredible staff helped Charlotte to still be Charlotte and to live as much as was possible in her last few months.
“This is something that our family and friends will forever be indebted to.”
Jez will be joined on the walk by his Worthing school friends Josh Sutcliffe, Rob Fone, Nigel Broad, George Kent and brothers, Chris and Dan Geere.
Some of these men recently participated in a fun walk organised by St Christopher’s Hospice.
Members of the team, which called itself Charlotte’s Sole Mates, raised a total of £27,500 for the hospice.
The hospice hopes to use this money, plus the funds raised from the 60 mile walk, towards funding a specific project or piece of equipment at the hospice.
St Christopher’s Hospice provides free care to over 5,000 patients and family members a year.
It cares for about 650 patients at home, and more than 350 patients in its wards and clinics each month.
Running the hospice costs £19 million each year – £13 million of which it must raise itself.
The hospice has recently joined up with other hospice charities to launch a campaign to widen access to end of life care, called Open Up Hospice Care.
“This new initiative is one that Chris and the team are keen to raise awareness of during the walk,” a spokesman said.
To find out more about the challenge or to make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thesebootsweremade4walkin