Nearly 700 people from Herts, Bucks and beyond took on the last section of the Ridgeway National Trail in Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge on Sunday (10 September). Hundreds of local families, friends and their pet dogs walked their choice of 5, 9 or 18 miles of rolling countryside, raising vital funds for the charity.
It was perfect walking weather as participants of all ages tackled the first two peaks of Whiteleaf Cross and Coombe Hill, while some persevered through more windy conditions to make it up to the top of the final peak at Ivinghoe Beacon. Multitudes of mums, dads, kids, friends, colleagues and dogs showed their support for a vital local cause by taking part and thoroughly enjoyed the friendly and encouraging atmosphere of the event. Aided by the support of local volunteers and business such as the Buckinghamshire Building Society and Arriva Buses, the walk attracted one of its highest turn-outs.
Upon reaching the five mile mark, many took the opportunity to reflect in Rennie Grove’s Memorial Woodland in Wendover. Those who were taking part in memory could hang a memory tag with a personalised message on one of the trees as a dedication of loved ones lost.
One group, consisting of the Jeeves/Havard families, had come together from High Wycombe, Aylesbury and Worcester to remember Tony Jeeves from High Wycombe who was cared for by Rennie Grove 7 years ago. Sophie Havard, aged 5, and Macie and Theo Jeeves, aged 7 and 3 all completed the 5 miles with big smiles on their faces accompanied by their grandmother, Jane. Older cousins, Erin and Thomas Havard, 7 and 9, and Georgia Jeeves, aged 14 all tackled the 9 miles accompanied by Clare Havard and Simon Jeeves.
Hemel Hempstead resident Yogi Powell found company for the full 18 mile walk in the form of his two daughters Hayley and Sarah. Rennie Grove had cared for his wife three years ago and the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge is their first event for the charity. “We wanted to do something to say thank you for everything the Rennie Grove nurses did for us as a family, so today we’re doing the whole walk and we’re raring to go, we’ll definitely be doing more after this one!”
Arriva buses bought five mile attendees back to their own vehicles parked at Princes Risborough School whilst the nine mile attendees, revived and refuelled, boarded the bus to Tring station, to complete the final four miles on foot. Those who couldn’t resist the ultimate challenge trekked the full 18 miles; from Princes Risborough to Wendover, then continuing to walk to join the 9-milers at the top of Ivinghoe Beacon.
Hayley Sanders and her team ‘The Old Trouts’ from Great Missenden were not entirely sure how they found themselves signed up for the full 18 mile route, but were pleased to be there supporting Rennie Grove. Hayley said ‘some of the Rennie Grove nurses cared for my late father many years ago; I did this event back then but took a break from it, I’m glad to be back doing it again this year’.
Little Chalfont resident Ginnie Scarles turned up to trek across the country with her husband and son, who had the lead on the walk and the family dog too. Ginnie also bought her good friend Rachel and her son Alex to tackle 9 miles of the walk. ‘We like this kind of event that’s healthy, sociable and for a good cause at the same time.’
A group of friends from The Lea near Great Missenden, who met through their children’s school, joined together to take on the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge for the first time. Armed with their team name, The Lea Lovelies, they signed up for the full 18 mile route motivated by the fact that some of their friends were receiving end-of-life care. Debbie Adcock, Debbie Killinger, Mina Hynds, Tracy Blackburn and Sotiria Spantidea-Wood had pushed their fundraising page on social media and Facebook and have so far raised over £1,000 to help fund the vital services provided by Rennie Grove for local families. Debbie Adcock said: “We’re really looking forward to the challenge today; to meeting new people and to enjoying the scenery along the way. We’re hoping to make this an annual event.”
Staff from Zenopa, a recruitment consultancy in High Wycombe, brought their families along to take part in an annual charity challenge. After completing a walk around the Isle of Wight last year, members of staff were keen to find another challenge and, as some people within the group had friends or relatives being cared for by Rennie Grove, they decided to choose to support a local cause in 2017.
Also walking were Katie Good and Eileen Murphy who both work in Rennie Grove’s South Bucks Hospice at Home nursing team. After walking the 5 and 9 mile routes before, Katie encouraged Eileen to join her in attempting the full 18 miles this year. Another nurse, Anne Banks from Rennie Grove’s dedicated Night Team, also pulled on her walking boots to take part in preparation for the even bigger challenge of the National Three Peaks Challenge next weekend. Katie and Eileen have together raised over £1,250 and Anne £1,400 to support the service they all passionately believe in.
Rennie Grove patient, Linda Ablett from Hemel Hempstead, was able to meet up along the way with two groups of people walking in her honour. Mel Furnell-Jones from Berkhamsted had brought together a group of six former colleagues of Linda’s while Nick Ablett, Linda’s son, and his partner Lisa had gathered a team of 13 to tackle the route. They were even joined by Pixel, the dog! Linda and her husband caught up with them between Wendover and Tring and provided a picnic to keep them going.
Another group from Weston Turville and the surrounding areas was pulled together by Linda Roche, a nurse who used to work for Rennie Grove. Linda met Gail Tucker, a District Nurse in Princes Risborough when she was working for the charity and they struck up a lasting friendship. Both ladies encouraged friends and family to join them, including Linda’s son Chris who is a Personal Trainer at Halton Tennis Club who in turn was joined by some members of his bootcamp! Linda said, “We’re really looking forward to the social aspect of walking together and to the views but we’ll also be remembering what it means to support such an important local cause.”
Clare Garden from Holmer Green who volunteers in the Rennie Grove shop in Holmer Green, was also taking part with a group of friends as part of their training for a trek along part of the The Great Wall of China next month. They are hoping to take on many more challenges for charity in the years to come.
The Hoy family, Kevin, Susan and Ben from Wendover set out with dogs Sammy and Dobby to complete the 5 mile route for the third time. Susan said “We love it! It’s great to be able to bring the family and the dogs to enjoy the fresh air – and it’s all for a good cause.”
As participants reached the end of the challenge at the top of a very windy Ivinghoe Beacon, there were smiles galore. Jemima King and Jack Armstrong, the first to finish of a group from Richardson’s Chartered Accountants in Thame said, “It was really well organised and the scenery is great. We will definitely be back to do this again.”
Jo Reynolds and her friend Kate Hughes from High Wycombe met up with Kim Russell from Kimble along the way and all were delighted to be supporting the charity, “The whole event has been absolutely fantastic. Everyone has been so lovely, the volunteers have been great, the scenery beautiful and we would highly recommend it. 18 miles isn’t that far really!”
Fellow Chiltern Railways train drivers Mick Goodman from Great Missenden, Tim Buttle from Aylesbury and Rob Samuels from Milton Keynes also sang the praises of the event, “It was excellent! The weather and scenery have been perfect and it’s been really friendly. It’s great to get out and do something to push yourself.”
In the eight years since its inception, this special sponsored walk has raised more than £350,000 for Rennie Grove’s unique services for patients and families affected by cancer and other life-limiting illness. Director of Fundraising & Marketing for Rennie Grove, Gillian Barnett, commented:
“With such a bumper turn out this year we are hoping to exceed our fundraising target of £40,000 which could fund 1,600 hours of specialist nursing in patients’ homes in Bucks and Herts. We couldn’t achieve this without three very special sets of people: our corporate sponsors like Buckinghamshire Building Society and Arriva, whose support with sponsorship and donating buses is invaluable; our volunteer marshals who give up their time to line the route and help walkers find their way, not to mention the Arriva bus drivers who volunteer their time to ferry walkers back to their cars; and the walkers themselves, who put in so much effort raising funds and hiking up those hills! A heartfelt thank you to you all on behalf of the thousands of families we are able to support each year because of your contribution.”
Special thanks also go to Greenfleets for sponsoring the medals, Dayla for providing water, JN Fox & Sons for donating bananas, Tesco Tring for providing chocolate treats for our walkers and Pets at Home for providing doggie treats for our canine participants.
Rennie Grove’s next mass participation sponsored event involves powder paint pandemonium for Colour Blast: The Scramble in Penn, Buckinghamshire on Sunday 24 September. Visit here to sign up and to see a full list of future events.