Long distance walker Paul Marsh nursed blisters and sore legs after completing the 100km Thames Path Challenge in memory of his mum, raising almost £4,000 for Rennie Grove Hospice Care along the way.
The route from Putney to Henley-on-Thames passed Kew Gardens, one of the places his mum Janet Marsh from Princes Risborough loved to visit before she passed away in 2015, aged 67.
Paul and his brother Richard have been a fundraising force in the intervening months, gathering more than £6,000 between them in sponsorship and donations for Rennie Grove whose nurses they describe as “invaluable”.
“They came out to the house at any hour, helping myself, my brothers and Dad through the worst of times, even visiting on Christmas Day to check on Mum,” said Richard, who ran the London Marathon for Rennie Grove earlier this year.
And Paul explained: “My family and I will be forever grateful for the care and support the nurses provided. I don’t know how we would have coped without their medical expertise and also their support and very human understanding of what my mum was going through and what our family was facing.”
Rennie Grove provides care and support to local adults and children with cancer and other life-limiting illness and their families. Through a 24/7 responsive hospice at home service and support services for carers and family members, the charity makes it possible for patients to choose to stay at home surrounded by their families and friends, something that is especially important at Christmas. 87% of the money needed to run the service every year is generously donated by the local community by supporting fundraising activities like Paul and Richard’s which is why raising sponsorship is so vital to the charity.
Paul described the Thames Path Challenge as “one hell of an event”. The first half got under way in the autumn sunshine, but as darkness fell the walk took on a surreal feel with participants sometimes only visible in the pitch black by the glo-sticks they carried, he said.
Out of 1,200 participants intent on completing the route in one go, Paul finished 300th with a time of 21 hours, 44 mins and 48 secs.
“I thought of Mum a lot, especially at night, at one point I was thinking of her and saw shooting stars, that was special,” he said.
Paul and Richard are proud of the time, energy and help their mum Janet was always quick to give to others – as a PTA leader, volunteer home economics teacher, volunteer senior adviser with the Citizens Advice Bureau and organiser of a school fundraising art show.
“I only hope that the money I raise can go a small way to helping others, the way Mum always did,” said Paul.
Katie Eyton, Senior Events Fundraiser at Rennie Grove said, “It has been a privilege to support Richard and Paul in their sponsored challenges this year. Just before Paul set off on his 100km trek, he sent me as message that said ‘I just hope to do Rennie Grove proud’. Not only has he succeeded in this, but he has also done himself, his family and his friends proud too.”
Rennie Grove is currently arranging its challenge events calendar for 2018 so if the idea of a wing-walk, a sky-dive or tackling the National 3 Peaks appeals to you please visit our sponsored challenges page for more information.