Around 400 people rose to the challenge posed by three of the Chiltern Hills’ toughest climbs this weekend. On Sunday (4 September) hundreds of local families and their pet dogs took on the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge, raising funds for Rennie Grove Hospice Care.
Undeterred by rain and wind, despite sunny skies at various points during the day, all walkers made the hike up Whiteleaf Cross and Coombe Hill, reaching the five mile mark as they paused for refreshments and to reflect in Rennie Grove’s Memorial
David Coles from Downley, near High Wycombe, has been involved in every Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge to date and explained why he felt that the memory tags added to the experience: “The memory tags are a lovely idea – especially as it’s a memorial woodland. I planted a tree here in memory of my wife when the woodland first opened seven or eight years ago and adding a tag now makes it all the more poignant. We all know why we’re here supporting Rennie Grove but doing this brings it home and concentrates your mind on what it’s all about.”
A proportion of participants peeled off at this point, catching the Arriva shuttle bus back to their own vehicles parked at Princes Risborough School. Others, revived and refuelled, boarded the dedicated Arriva bus to Tring station, to complete the final four miles on foot. Some walked all the way from Wendover, trekking 18 miles in total to join the 9-milers at the top of Ivinghoe Beacon.
Members of a Nordic Walking Group that meets in Hastoe, near Tring, took part as a team. Mike Andrews from Tring was joined by fellow walkers Charlotte Ayling, also from Tring, and Claire Frearson from Pitstone. Mike said: “I’ve taken part a couple of times and it’s always well-organised. It’s a great way of getting exercise, enjoying the last 18 miles of the Ridgeway trail and supporting a worthwhile charity.”
Walkers returning to try the route again included Jane Foy and husband John from Wing, with their dog Louis. “I was really pleased to find the hills a little easier this year,” said Jane. “Five miles is enough of a challenge for me but Louis must have covered about 20 miles what with all the running back and forth he did!”
Sue Brock from Edlesborough had walked the national 3 Peaks Challenge and planned to take on the 18 mile local version with son, James, sending husband Mike and rescue dog, Dillon home after they’d comfortably finished the five mile route.
Other first-timers were delighted to have finally managed to try out the route. A team of eight from Tring, comprising mums and dads who had become firm friends through their school-age children, were led by Alison Parker. “I’d always wanted to try it,” she said, “but until this year the date had always clashed with something.” The group came up with a creative team name: D’Campars. An acronym formed by their initials, it also reflects their more typical social get togethers on camping trips!
Three generations of a family came together as an eight-strong team to take on two of the routes. The girls: grandmother Jane Jeeves from Widmer End, mum-of-three from Worcester, Claire Havard; her daughters, Erin (6) and Sophie (4) and nieces from Aylesbury: Georgia (13) and Macie (6) finished in Wendover after climbing Whiteleaf Cross and Coombe Hill. Meanwhile, the boys – Dad Rob Havard and son Tom (8) - scaled the third peak of Ivinghoe Beacon too. Jane, who volunteers in Rennie Grove’s Holmer Green charity shop, and her granddaughter Georgia, had taken part in six previous Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenges.
A 17-strong team from event sponsors Buckinghamshire Building Society were taking on a range of the three routes between them. Chief Executive, Andrew Craddock, from Aston Clinton said: “We have a long history of supporting Rennie Grove Hospice Care. As a company we’re very keen to support the local community and sponsoring this event enables us to put something back. Many of our members have sadly had experience of cancer in their families and Rennie Grove has been incredibly supportive.”
Colleague Jill Carpenter from Chesham added: “Our cashiers really get to know our customers and so we hear a lot of good feedback about the service and support Rennie Grove provides.”
The Hoy family from Kings Ash, near Wendover, were taking part for the second year running. This time their handsome rescue dog, Sam, had an event t-shirt specially modified to fit his long and lean frame. “We cut away the front part of the t-shirt to make it a better fit,” explained Susan, whose uncle received care from Rennie Grove’s hospice at home nurses and whose aunt now volunteers with the charity’s retail team as an ebay lister.
Over the seven 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, explained: “We hope this year’s event will bring in around £40,000 towards our nursing service, 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 Arriva, Buckinghamshire Building Society and Grant & Stone, whose support donating buses and drivers, sponsoring walkers’ numbers and route signage is invaluable; our volunteer marshals who give up their time to line the route and help walkers find their way; 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.”
Rennie Grove’s next mass participation sponsored event is the Herts 10K in Harpenden on Sunday 9 October. Visit www.herts10k.com to sign up and www.renniegrove.org to see a full list of future events.