Over 600 walkers from across Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and beyond joined us on Sunday 9 September to celebrate a decade of the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge.
This spectacular walk – which is the last section of the Ridgeway National Trail – offered an opportunity to walk 7, 11 or 20 miles to raise vital funds for us. Participants took advantage of the chance to get together with friends, colleagues, family, children and dogs to enjoy a day out walking in the fresh air, taking in the incredible views around this area of outstanding natural beauty.
Speaking at the start of the challenge, our Chief Executive Stewart Marks said, “People arrived promptly and set off very enthusiastically on their Chiltern hills challenge. It’s great to see so many people taking part in a community event whilst raising funds for charity. Rennie Grove depends on the support of local people and we are so grateful for all those who have turned out today. We hope everyone – and their dogs – enjoy their walk.”
It was ideal walking weather with outbreaks of sunshine and a cool breeze 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, which could not have taken place without the support of local volunteers and businesses such as the event sponsor, Origin and transport providers Arriva Buses.
Mandy and Becky from Wendover and Weston Turville were undertaking the 20 mile route as part of their fitness regime. They said “Although we walk locally we are keen to use today as a good opportunity to learn new routes.”
A team of 12 members from Xcelerate Fitness in Marlow including beautiful Bonnie the dog (who was very keen to get started) were all undertaking the 20 mile route. Derek Baker was walking in memory of his late wife Gwynfa who was cared for by what was then Iain Rennie Hospice at Home nurses towards the end of 2001 and into the early part of 2002. “The nurses provided a wonderful service to my wife” Derek recalled and is pleased to be supporting Rennie Grove today.
For Amy and Jaydon from Great Missenden this was their first time at the Chilterns 3 Peaks and they were opting for the 11 mile route. And while Jaydon was feeling “excited” Amy was feeling “rather nervous!”
Super-fit David Thomas and his son Zachary aged 6 from Princes Risborough were taking on the 20 mile challenge despite having undertaking a mud run the day before. Dad David, one half of the dynamic duo with boundless energy said, “We are still tired from yesterday but wanted to do the Chilterns 3 Peaks too so we plan to make it all the way to the end.”
Andy McColm from Downley, along with daughter Emma and son Graeme, supported by daughter-in-law Katie and grand-daughter Coralie, were all walking in memory of Maggie who very sadly passed away in February. Andy said, “My wife Maggie was diagnosed in early December and was cared for by the Rennie Grove nurses until she passed away. The nurses were wonderful. It was totally comforting to know that they would come out to us at any time that we needed them.” Daughter Emma added, “The nurses made us feel that they always had time for us and importantly, despite all the equipment, they didn’t make the house feel like a hospital.”
First-time walkers Eleanor from Naphill, accompanied by her very handsome German Shepherd Solly were “looking forward to a lovely walk and fundraising for Rennie Grove at the same time.”
Friends Aurora, Debbie, Karen, Laura and Jackie travelled from Wingrave, Watford and Clapham to take on the 20 mile challenge. “I’m a Macmillan cancer nurse,” explained Debbie “and Laura is a radiographer so we know about Rennie Grove. We are all based at UCLH in London and are looking forward to the walk,” she added.
Rennie Grove’s own Family Support Team were planning on getting to know each other better during the walk and had brought along partners, children and dogs too.
Also looking forward to a teambuilding opportunity was the team from Michael Anthony Estate Agent in Aylesbury including 5 year old Flint who is an ex-hearing dog for the deaf.
Helen and Mark from Berkhamsted along with their four sons Thomas 7, Fred 5, Alex 3 and Luke 1 set off together on the 7 mile route. The boys each had a map to make sure they didn’t get lost. “We’re aiming for 7 miles but have a contingency plan in place in the form of grandparents just in case it is too much for the boys,” explained Helen.
Another team of work colleagues setting out together and raising funds for Rennie Grove were from Prospect House Surgery in Great Missenden who were also accompanied by Rennie Grove Supporting Hands volunteer Gita. Gita said, “I am so excited to be taking part and walking with the team from Prospect House where my friend works.”
Walking in memory of a very special young man were team Ollie. Ollie’s Mum, Jane Gardener from Aston Clinton explained, “Ollie had a brain tumour and died last November. Rennie Grove’s children’s nurses were brilliant.” Jane was accompanied by friends Louise Butler, Rachel and Daisy Jackson on their 11 mile route.
Align Design and Construct who are working on the HS2 project in the area brought a team of 15 people to undertake the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge. Jordana from Align’s community engagement team explained, “We are walking today to do something for charity and for the local community”.
Upon reaching the seven mile mark, many took the opportunity to reflect in Rennie Grove’s Memorial Woodland in Wendover. Those who were taking part in memory of a loved one could hang a memory tag with a personalised message on one of the trees as a dedication to their special person and take a moment to remember the good times that they had shared.
Friends Claire Beever and Heidi Bradley from Loosley Row near Lacey Green completed the 7 mile route with their children Tommy (10) and Jack Beever (12) and Christian (10) and Amelia (14) Bradley. Speaking at the finish line, they said: “The countryside was stunning and it’s great that the event is so accessible for families giving them the chance to walk together. We will definitely take part again.” Claire’s husband, Dom, and Heidi’s husband, Alex, were both carrying on to complete the 20 mile route.
The MacBeth family from Cuddington and the McGough family from Ilmer, near Princes Risborough, also took on the 7 mile challenge with their six children whose ages ranged from 5 – 12. Proudly displaying their medals at the finish line, parents Clare Macbeth and Gemma and Chris McGough said: “It was a gorgeous walk with beautiful views and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. It really helped the younger children to be walking together in a group and was very achievable for a family walk. Next year we’ll be aiming for the 11 mile route.”
At nearly 86 Clem Reed from Wendover, who was walking with his wife Mary, was pleased to tackle the 7 mile route for the first time. At the finish line, Clem said: “I would really recommend this event to others. The views were excellent!”
Rob and Wendy Peto travelled from Chester to take part in the event and joined their son Ben and Ellie Riley, both from Watermead in Aylesbury, in taking part in the 7 mile route. Ben said: “We wanted to support a local charity and this is a great way to get to know the Chilterns. The scenery was amazing and it was really interesting to see Chequers as well as some of the local wildlife, including red kites and kestrels.”
Arriva buses bought seven mile walkers back to their own vehicles parked at Princes Risborough School whilst those walking on to complete the 11 mile route revived and refuelled before boarding the bus to Tring station to complete the final four miles on foot. Those who were taking on the ultimate 20 mile challenge trekked on to complete the entire route from Princes Risborough to Wendover and then continued on, joining the 11-milers at Tring Station before the final push to the top of Ivinghoe Beacon.
As participants reached the end of the challenge at the top of Ivinghoe Beacon, there were smiles all round and a great sense of achievement.
Rennie Grove shop volunteer Sandra Haine together with her husband Charles and Jerry Hall completed the 20 mile route: “It was a great day out. There was a really good atmosphere and spirit among everyone taking part and it was the perfect chance to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the countryside. The whole event was really well organised and the marshals were all so friendly.”
Also enjoying the opportunity to be outside and to spend time together as a family were the Sawyers from Chesham Bois and Tring who proudly completed the 11 mile route. Sue, together with son James and grandchildren Joe and Beth, were taking part to support Rennie Grove after the nurses cared for Sue’s husband. Sue said: “This is the fourth year I have taken part and it’s been lovely to do something together for such a good cause and take time to talk to each other.”
Showing her appreciation for the care Rennie Grove gave to her mum and dad was Sheila Coles from Loosley Row who was taking part for the sixth time and walking with a group of family and friends: “Rennie Grove were so helpful with Mum and Dad when they wanted to be at home at the end and I have tried to raise as much as I can for the charity over the years. Earlier this year, I climbed Kilimanjaro and raised over £1,000. It’s great to support a local charity that benefits so many local people and families.”
Shailza Leaver, mum to two of the children cared for by our Children’s Hospice at Home team, took part alongside Rennie Grove children’s nurse, Francesca Lennon. Shailza said: “It’s mentally tiring looking after the boys every day but today I’ve had the chance to push myself physically and it’s been really good. The countryside has been lovely – you really don’t have to go to Scotland for good views!” Francesca added: “A big thank you to the wonderful and friendly marshals and other volunteers who have made today possible.”
Reflecting on the day, Stewart Marks said, “In the decade since its inception, this amazing walk has raised tens of thousands of pounds for Rennie Grove Hospice Care enabling us to continue to provide our specialist nursing services for adults and children in Bucks and Herts who have cancer and other life-limiting illness. I am so impressed by the enthusiasm and camaraderie that I have witnessed today among all the walkers and want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has joined us and made the day such a resounding success.
“I also want to thank our volunteers who have helped in a plethora of ways, often undertaking activities behind the scenes that most of us are unaware of, that nevertheless all mean that we have a safe and enjoyable event. In addition to our main event sponsor, Origin, I would also like to thank our other generous sponsors Greenfleets for the medals, Dayla for providing bottles of water, JN Fox & Sons for donating bananas, Tesco Tring for providing chocolate treats for our walkers and Barking Heads for providing doggie treats for our canine participants.”