Monday, 20 September 2021

Couple’s 146-mile walk in memory of baby daughter

A COUPLE raised £4,164 for charity by walking 146 miles in 11 days.

A COUPLE raised £4,164 for charity by walking 146 miles in 11 days.

Howard and Jill Poll, of Rotherfield Road, Henley, trekked from Winchester to Canterbury in aid of Child Bereavement UK.

The couple lost their three-month-old daughter Ellen to cot death in 1979. They were then living in Canterbury but moved to Henley four years later with their three other children, Louise, Lorna and Ellen’s twin Sam, who are now 36, 32 and 34 respectively.

The couple decided to tackle the challenge as they are keen walkers and both were celebrating landmark birthdays — Mrs Poll turned 60 in April and Mr Poll was 65 in May.

They walked along the Pilgrims’ Way, which joins the two cities’ cathedrals via Guildford and Box Hill in Surrey.

Each night they stayed at hotels, where they were offered a discounted rate or, in some cases, a free room.The couple’s journey started at Winchester Cathedral, where the Rev Canon Dr Roland Riem blessed them before they set off.

During the walk friends and relatives sent daily text messages of encouragement and drove their luggage between the hotels.

John and Jane Case, of Greys Road, Henley, drove to surprise the couple as they walked through Kent on day nine. They were also joined that day by son Sam, who now lives in Surbiton.

When they arrived at Canterbury Cathedral they were greeted by other members of their family and their cocker spaniel Ebony.

The welcoming party also included the cathedral dean the Very Rev Robert Willis, the Sheriff of Canterbury Ann Taylor and CBUK chief executive Ann Chalmers.

Mrs Poll, who has been a volunteer for CBUK since 1996, said: “We were tired after we finished but it was the good kind of tired. It was quite an emotional challenge as well as a physical one because it was for such a personal cause.

“I ran in the London Marathon for Child Bereavement UK about 12 years ago and this was right up there with that. Howard said it was one of the best things he had ever done.

“We felt as though we had achieved something for other people as well as ourselves. It’s great to think about how many families it will help.”

The couple more than doubled their original fund-raising target of £2,000.

Mrs Poll said: “Everyone has been so generous. We met lots of people along the way who gave us money as soon as we told them what we were doing. In some ways those little donations touched us the most.”

The couple overcame several challenges during the walk. On the third day Mr Poll had to stop to buy a support stocking and painkillers after developing a pain in his knee.

Mrs Poll battled hip pain at the end of a 20-mile stretch between Otford and Medway in Kent.

She said: “We were worried that Howard would not be able to carry on when his knee began playing up.

“I’m so glad he was able to continue — I couldn’t have done the walk without him.

“We did manage to finish the whole walk without getting any blisters, which is ironic because Sam only joined us for one day and he got four!”

To make a donation, visit www.just

JOHN HOWELL will be the guest speaker at the second meeting of Henley Conservative Future on June 23.

The Henley MP will discuss current affairs and life at Westminster before an open forum where members can ask questions and debate.

The free event will take place at the Hot Gossip coffee house in Friday Street from 6pm to 7pm.

Conservative Future was formed to involve young people in politics and now has 15,000 members nationwide.

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