Almost 900 walkers from across Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and beyond joined us on Sunday 8 September to take on 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 panoramic views around this area of outstanding natural beauty.
Speaking at the start of the challenge, our Chief Executive Stewart Marks who was himself undertaking the 11 mile walk said: “It’s amazing to see that so many people have turned out to take part in the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge 2019. On behalf of everyone connected to Rennie Grove I would like to say a massive thank you to the participants and the people who have sponsored them. It is thanks to them that we can continue to care for our patients and their families.”
The cool early morning soon turned sunny to become ideal walking weather as participants of all ages tackled the first two peaks of Whiteleaf Cross and Coombe Hill, and continued for those who made it to the top of the final peak at Ivinghoe Beacon.
Groups of walkers, large and small, comprising mums, dads, kids, friends, colleagues and lots and lots of dogs showed their support for an important local cause by taking part and thoroughly enjoying the friendly and encouraging atmosphere. The event could not have taken place without the support of local volunteers and businesses such as the event sponsor, Origin and transport providers Arriva Buses.
Elaine and Patch from Markyate were seen off by Elaine’s parents and her daughter along with a posse of Jack Russell terriers. Elaine said: “Patch and I are tackling 11 miles to support Rennie Grove for the care its nurses gave to my Granddad, Albert in 2012 and my Nan, Margaret just two years later.”
The Frampton family from Hemel Hempstead were walking to remember Robert - a much-loved husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather and friend.
Robert’s wife Teresa said: “Rennie Grove’s Dacorum team of nurses were absolutely amazing. It was because of them that Robert could stay at home with us in the months before he died. Our grandchildren call Rennie Grove nurses “Granddad’s special nurses” because that is just what they are. Our “Robert’s Ramblers” T-shirts were designed by our grandson Lewis who chose the bright red colour and the lovely photo of his Granddad. We have chosen to walk the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge as a really positive way to celebrate Robert’s birthday.”
Another group walking to remember a very special and much missed loved-one were the Wells family from the Kimble area. Twenty-one family members comprising daughters, sisters, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, cousins, daughter in law and friends came to walk in memory of Betty Wells who passed away in May this year. She was described as “a woman in a million”, “a lady in every way” and “our Queen”. Speaking on behalf of the whole family, Betty’s daughter-in-law added “The Wells family will be forever grateful to the nurses from Rennie Grove Hospice Care who cared for Betty.”
The Taptastics – 10 members of a tap dance group from Chesham - donned Raspberry Berets in a fun tribute to their last dance at a recent show before they set off.
Katrina from Wigginton with her husband and two friends were setting off on the 20 mile route with Mable (8 months), Woody (6) and Amber (2). 11 year old Percy was joining them for the last part of the walk.
Phil along with daughter Jess and her friend Ruby, all from the Aylesbury area were also looking forward to their walk. Phil said: “This is our third year and we’re going for the 20 miles.” They were seen off by Jess’s Mum Katie.
Yvonne Delaney from Stone was accompanied by her dog Shep. She said: “We are undertaking the 20 mile walk and are looking forward to doing it in such good weather.”
Matt Gibson from Tring and friend Jonny Young were also going for the 20 miles. Matt said: “This will be the fifth time that we’ve done the walk. I have seen the work that Rennie Grove Hospice Care nurses do and it is incredible. We are walking so that we can raise funds to help people and their families who need care from Rennie Grove and it is rewarding to know that we are helping nurses to support people in their time of need.”
Work colleagues Nick, Naz, Emily, Joe, Jodie and Travis representing High Wycombe business Origin were all looking forward to the walk. Origin is main sponsor of the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge and staunch supporters of Rennie Grove. Nick said: “We are proud that Origin are the main sponsors of today’s event and want to help raise funds for this great local charity. We hold Rennie Grove very close to our hearts and have been firm supporters of their cause since 2013.”
Marion Elliot travelled down from Leicester to take on the 20 mile route along with daughter Kirsty from Butler’s Cross. Marion is a regular walker and Kirsty keeps active by running and cycling. Kirsty said: “We are doing the walk today to spend some time together and to raise money for a great local cause.”
Five friends from Hemel Hempstead – aka The Fabulous Five –Alia, Dorothy, Karen, Estella and Alejandra were given a canine send-off courtesy of stunning Bergamasco Sheepdogs Toby and Mauro. Humans and hounds were all in high spirits and really looking forward to the walk.
Rachel Noon from Tring who was joined by parents Ruth and Richard said: “We walked 11 miles last year – this year we are going for 20 so wish us luck!”
Sarah O’Connor and her friend Theresa Fagan both from Leighton Buzzard were also really looking forward to their day. Sarah said “Rennie Grove nurses cared for my Mum in 2011. It was because of them that she could remain at home and they provided wonderful support. I worked for Rennie Grove myself for four years and understand how important it is to raise as much money as possible for this amazing charity. This is our first Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge and we are walking the 20 mile route.”
Once they had reached the seven mile mark, many people took the opportunity to have a quiet moment of reflection 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.
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.
Helen and Anna from Long Marsden stopped for a short break at Wendover before heading off to complete the 20 mile route. Helen said: “I’m really enjoying it so far and the uphill is definitely easier than downhill”. “Our feet are starting to feel it but we’re going to march through and enjoy the rest of the day,” added Anna.
Rachel Webber from Pitstone, completed the 11 mile route. She said: “It’s been a great day although I am feeling weary now I’m at the end. But 11 miles is a good distance and it is nice to have options to choose from. It was certainly a bit of a challenge but not too overwhelming which made it enjoyable.”
Nina from Gerrards Cross walked 11 miles with her husband. She said: “We’ve never done this event before but after today I can say we’ll definitely be doing it again. We walked for my sister, and for those that are going through harder times than an 11 mile walk. It was a little tough in places but that’s spurred us on to do 20 miles next year!”
Bill Jordan and Alun Goode from Aston Clinton completed 20 miles in 5 hours and 20 minutes. Bill who does the walk every year said: “It’s been another cracking day. I’ve done this event every year since it started and Alun joins me when he can. Today has been some of the best weather we’ve ever had. It’s always a fantastic walk.”
The Noon family from Tring completed the 20 miles in just over 6 hours. Rachel Noon said: “We are so pleased to have walked 20 miles. I think we managed it because we didn’t ever stop for long – we were too scared about our legs seizing up! We want to thank all those kind people who sponsored us and are very pleased to be able to make a donation to this wonderful local charity.”
Also enjoying their achievement was the Marlow Marvels made up of U3A members. Liz from the Marvels said: “It’s a great feeling to be finished! What a wonderful day it’s been, we’ve all loved walking as a team together. It couldn’t have been better.”
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.
Reflecting on the day, Stewart Marks said, “The number of people walking today and raising funds for Rennie Grove Hospice Care has been truly incredible and very humbling. Between them they have raised thousands of pounds which will enable 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 and support for their families too. We have had fantastic weather and I have been so impressed by the friendship and goodwill that I have witnessed. I do hope everyone has enjoyed the walk as much as we have.
“I would like to give a special mention to our volunteers who have helped in so many 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 Arriva Buses and their volunteer drivers, Daisy FM for sponsoring the medals, Dayla for providing additional water supplies and the Bucks and Oxon Response Group for proving the water containers and crewing the water points. Their support means that even more money goes directly in providing patient care and family support.”