Saturday, 15 May 2021

Women raise £2,800 for charity with month of walks

Women raise £2,800 for charity with month of walks

TWO retired women walked a total of 245 miles through the countryside over a month for charity.

Karen Bridges, of Cuddesdon Close, Woodcote, and Audrey Turton, of Hunters Chase, Caversham, completed at least 10,000 steps every day in March as part of Cancer Research UK’s national Walk All Over Cancer initiative.

The pair walked 31 circular routes, mostly along or near the Thames Path between Goring and Henley, and averaged 18,500 steps or 7.8 miles each time.

According to a mobile app which monitored their progress, each woman burned a total of 17,821 calories.

The pair set out to raise £1,000 but have collected almost £2,800 and hope to pass the £3,000 mark as donations are still coming in.

Miss Bridges, 64, read about the challenge online and was inspired to sign up in memory of an old university friend who died from the disease last summer.

The retired teacher had wanted to compete in the Reading half marathon but as this kept being postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, she was seeking an alternative. Miss Bridges invited Mrs Turton, who is 84, to join her on the walk as she lost her husband Enoch to cancer in 2014.

The women had no fear that they would struggle because they already led active lifestyles. Both play golf regularly at The Club at Mapledurham, where Miss Bridges is a former ladies’ captain, as well as walking several miles a day or working out at the gym.

On their walks, Miss Bridges took photographs of the scenery for an album chronicling her experience.

On their final day, the women were met at the finish line by Dawn Challis and Loraine Wheeler, two of Miss Bridges’ former colleagues from Langtree School in Woodcote, who poured them a celebratory glass of Prosecco before they enjoyed fish and chips at the Waterfront café in Benson.

Miss Bridges, a former geography teacher, said: “We were so pleased to have finished and everyone was particularly proud of Audrey as it’s an amazing achievement for her.

“I thought it would be nicer and more motivating if we could do a different route each time so I got my Ordnance Survey map out and joined the dots. We managed to cover almost every footpath in this vicinity, especially those along the River Thames.

“We tried to go early or mid-morning to get the best of the weather and apart from two days where we got very wet, it was lovely — cold at times but mostly sunny.

“Mud was a big problem on many of the routes but we trudged through and there was no stopping us.

“We were probably walking for about three hours a day, so it was quite a commitment but that’s the whole point of a fundraising challenge. We never got tired — we were firing on all cylinders the whole way through and found it pretty easy, mostly.

“We were talking the whole way round and really enjoyed seeing all the woods in winter so we can’t wait to keep up the walking and see them in the other seasons.

“I think many people have got into fitness during the lockdowns and hopefully, like us, they will keep it up for the benefits of getting exercise in the fresh air.”

Mrs Turton, who worked as a medical secretary, said: “We’ve been walking together all year since the lockdown so I was very keen to join Karen on this. It was pretty straightforward as she did all the planning and off we went.

“It was absolutely lovely — we were talking the whole way round about the scenery while Karen took some beautiful photographs. It’s amazing how two ladies can chat to each other for so long every day.

“Before the lockdown I was walking more than four miles on the golf course and doing up to two hours in the gym so it was no harder than my normal regime, though it was great to be doing it for a worthwhile cause.

“Friends and family were very proud and asked questions like ‘How can you do that every day?’ but we got used to it. It’s important to keep fit because it’s ‘use it or lose it’ when you reach a certain age.

“I’m very pleased that the lockdown is ending as I can go back to the gym, which allows me to do some exercises that I can’t do at home.”

To sponsor the pair, visit https://fundraise.cancerresearch
uk.org and search for “Karen and Audrey’s Walk Over Cancer”

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