THREE 80-year-old Rotarians are en route to raising £10,000 for three local hospices by walking a mile for every year of their lives.
Friends David Burman, Robbin Suffield and Jeff Masters have already amassed more than £4,000 towards their target after completing the Triple80HospiceTrek – but it wasn not without its challenges.
The Henley-in-Arden Rotary Club members were inspired to walk 80 miles from Sharpness on the River Severn near Bristol to Wootton Wawen after the club’s three main fund-raisers – a charity golf day, concert and Bluebell Woods parking – were among those cancelled due to the pandemic.
But at times it was far from a smooth path, challenges including a run in with hammer-wielding youths, an angry farmer and fly-tipping, not to mention nights under canvas.
David Burnam, from Claverdon, said: “The path seemed to end so I rang and said that I would drive down one of the tracks to gain access to the Severn bank to pick the other two up.
“The first part of the drive was a farm and the farmer was not happy with my presence and told me to go away in very flowery language. So I did. I then went back to another access road through an industrial estate and turned into an old car park only to find a gang of youths smashing a car with hammers. They immediately turned their attention to me, running towards my car waving the hammers. One threw his hammer toward me so I floored the pedal and fled with great speed into an area of flats.”
Robbin Suffield, from Wootton Wawen, added: “One hot sunny day Jeff and I wasted a couple of hours, and had to retrace our steps, when the route on the outskirts of Gloucester entered an area of wasteland strewn with abandoned cars and fly-tipping. Although clearly marked on our up to date maps, the Severn Way Long Distance Path deteriorated into a wilderness of undergrowth and brambles which became totally impenetrable!
“And the following day we discovered that the Severn Way has recently been rerouted onto the opposite bank of the river!”
“But any challenges we faced were overshadowed by the sheer fellowship and camaraderie we shared, not only among the three of us over the whole eight days, but with several people whom we met and talked to or dined or walked with, including Rotarians from fur other local clubs en route.
“We are all used to walking, having done several long distance national trails in our younger years and a few marathon and half marathon runs.”
The trio, who are all past, present and future presidents of Henley-in-Arden Rotary Club, were joined for the last seven-mile stretch of the route by representatives of the three hospices – Bridget Richards, from Shakespeare Hospice and Natalie Humphrey from Myton Hospice. Olivia Guglia from Acorns Children’s Hospice greeted them at Wootton Hall, along with a ceremonial welcome by the Henley Town Crier and civic dignitaries.
Jeff Masters, from Snitterfield, said: “It proved to be a brilliant adventure and we met so many kindly people on the way.
“Our objective of raising substantial money for the three hospices is well on track. Our other objective to raise interest in Henley in Arden Rotary Club and new members remains to be seen.
“We have, over many years, supported most community groups and activities and would like this to continue. Without new membership we are in danger of fading away to the detriment of the community. To like-minded people, we say please come as a visitor and see if it is for you.”
To support their efforts, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=Triple80&isTeam=true