Intrepid youngsters from a Peterborough school walked over 40 miles as part of an annual charity initiative which has raised more than £150,000 for cancer sufferers over the past decade.
he Malcolm Whales Foundation was set up in 2008 by Peterborough teacher Damien Whales in memory of his father and recently held its tenth annual Dorset Walk along the Jurassic Coast which saw over 150 children and teachers take part.
Pupils and teachers from the Ken Stimpson Community School in Peterborough - where Mr Whales is Vice Principal - were joined by participants from schools in Ely and Northamptonshire, walking 40 miles of the South West Coast Path from Weymouth to Studland Bay over three days, from July 13 to 15.
Each raised an average of around £100 to participate, and also rattled buckets to raise more as they walked, passing features familiar from their geography textbooks such as Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and Old Harry.
The walkers also cleaned up the trail as they went, helping maintain some of the National Trust’s most beautiful coastal countryside.
Damien Whales, vice principal at Ken Stimpson Community School, said: “I am always blown away by the amount of support we get for this walk, both from the walkers themselves and their schools, and also from our generous sponsors.
“Ten years ago, as I prepared for the first of these, I would never have dreamed that we would be able to help so many people through the funds we’ve raised since then. It’s become a proper logistical operation now, and is hard to pull off alongside my day-job, but I know my dad would have little sympathy for that. I’m fairly sure he’d be proud of what we’re doing in his name.”
Ben Gibbs, one of the Foundation’s Patrons, said: “So many things impress me about these walks, but what strikes me most powerfully is watching some of the young walkers overcome their own personal challenges and develop as the miles take their toll. It really is a privilege to walk with these young fundraisers, and also to walk alongside those who have themselves battled cancer and other illnesses.
“As a Foundation, we are really grateful to Ken Stimpson and the other schools involved for their support, and for recognising the significant educational value of the walk for their students.”
The Foundation has raised more than £150,000 from the event since its launch 10 years ago, and uses the money to provide practical help for young people recovering from cancer and other life-changing illnesses.
In recent years, it has helped Grafham Water Sailability to buy a new boat and get more disabled young people afloat. It has also enabled The Harry Johnson Trust to build a sensory garden at The Princess Royal Hospital Telford and donated iPads to the children’s cancer ward at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge.
Malcolm Whales was only 55 years old when he died of bowel cancer in 2008. Shortly before his diagnosis, he had taken an interest in endurance challenges and in particular long distance walks, and so Damien thought these would be a fitting way of remembering him. The Foundation also raises money through sponsored golf days, rugby matches and a ’12 hours of sport’ event at several schools.
The Foundation is always looking for charities and worthy causes to support, and also welcomes interest from companies or individuals who wish to sponsor its events. To find out more, see www.malcolmwhales.co.uk. To give to the Foundation, please see:http://www.malcolmwhales.co.uk/donate/4539153919