30 August 2016
'Walk of Love'
A grieving mum has reached the half way point of her epic 'Walk
of Love' around the coast of Great Britain, to raise money in
memory of her five-year-old daughter.
Natalia Spencer, 41, from Cheltenham, is walking 6,000 miles
around the coast after her daughter Elizabeth passed away at
Bristol Children's Hospital last year.
Elizabeth was taken ill in November with a relatively common
virus which triggered an autoimmune condition known as
Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). This rare condition
caused her body to go into septic shock, shutting down her major
organs and cutting off the blood supply to her limbs. Despite
doctors' best efforts, after 18 days on life support Elizabeth
passed away on 10 December 2015.
Elizabeth loved the beach and she and Natalia often went on
trips to the seaside. After she passed away Natalia realised she
felt much closer to her daughter at the coast, and the idea for her
challenge began to form.
Natalia's 'Walk of Love' started on 14 February at Durdle Door
in Dorset, the last beach she and Elizabeth visited together.
Exactly six months later, on Sunday 14 August she will walk from
Barcaldine to Lurignish, northwest Scotland. She has covered 3,000
miles around Dorset, Cornwall, Devon, the entire coast of Wales,
Lancashire and Cumbria.
Incredibly, before she even reaches the halfway point in her
route, Natalia has already raised more than £60,000 for The Grand
Appeal, the Bristol Children's Hospital Charity. She hopes to
raise £100,000 in total. The money will go to the hospital's
Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, to thank them for everything they
did to save Elizabeth, and to support other critically-ill
Natalia walks as far as 20 miles each day, only taking Saturdays
to rest. She posts daily updates on the 'Elizabeth's Footprint'
Facebook page, and invites others to walk with her at any stage.
She has been joined throughout her journey by a whole host of
individuals, many of whom have also lost a child.
Natalia said, "The walk has been incredibly challenging but I am
so proud to have reached the half way point. The last few days have
been some of the toughest of my walk so far, as the coastline
becomes more rugged and remote the further into the Highlands I go.
That being said, Scotland has been my favourite place so far too.
The wild and untouched nature is breathtakingly beautiful and every
day I walk through awe-inspiring landscapes.
"Scottish people are also incredibly friendly, kind and
generous. Every day I am surprised and overwhelmed by people's
kindness and generosity. So many people have walked with me,
offered me a cup of coffee or somewhere to stay. I have even had a
new pair of walking boots bought for me by local supporters. Every
day I see the very best in people.
"I have met so many inspiring people, especially other parents
who have lost their precious children. I think about them often and
feel a very special connection to each of them. Speaking to others
and knowing they understand what I am going through is a huge
comfort and means I am not on my own.
"Waking up every day to another day without Elizabeth is the
hardest thing I have ever had to do. But I know she would be so
proud of what I have achieved. By completing this walk I will be
able to bring something positive from her death. Her memory
will live on through the people I meet along the way and all those
who are touched by her legacy."
Suzanne Maverick, fundraising manager, The Grand Appeal, said,
"Natalia is a true inspiration and has already achieved so much
just half way through her challenge. From the very beginning she
has been determined to create something good from the tragedy of
losing Elizabeth. Her fearless efforts will leave a lasting legacy,
providing vital equipment for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit
that will support other critically-ill children in the future.
"Her story has touched so many and made certain that her
beautiful little girl won't be forgotten. This will surely only
continue as she makes her way back to her starting point, and we
will all be so proud to welcome her home.
To donate to Natalia's 'Walk of Love', visit www.justgiving.com/Natalia-Spencer
or text ELIF55 and your donation amount to 70070.
You can follow Natalia's progress at www.elizabethsfootprint.com
and on Facebook by searching 'Elizabeth's Footprint'.
Bristol Children's Hospital treats 100,000 critically-ill
children each year, from across the largest catchment area of any
children's hospital in England. The Grand Appeal has to date raised
more than £40 million to support children and babies at Bristol
Children's Hospital, providing life-saving medical equipment,
patient facilities and therapies and accommodation for families.
For more information about The Grand Appeal, visit www.grandappeal.org.uk
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