30 September 2016
Bereaved mum reaches John O’Groats on ‘Walk of Love’ around the coast of Great Britain in memory of her daughter
The mother of a five-year-old girl who passed away from a rare
illness has reached John O'Groats on her 'Walk of Love' around the
coast of Great Britain, to raise money in her daughter's
Natalia Spencer, 41, from Cheltenham, is walking 6,000 miles
around the coast after her daughter Elizabeth passed away at
Bristol Children's Hospital in December. She started on Valentine's
Day in Dorset, and almost 200 days and 4,000 miles later reached
the iconic John O'Groats signpost onTuesday 27 September.
Elizabeth was taken ill in November last year with a relatively
common virus which triggered an autoimmune condition known as
Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). This rare condition
overwhelmed her vital organs, and after 18 days on life support
Elizabeth passed away on 10 December.
Natalia now hopes to raise £100,000 for The Grand Appeal, the
Bristol Children's Hospital Charity. The funds will support the
hospital's Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, to help them care for
other critically-ill children.
Natalia's 'Walk of Love' started at Durdle Door in Dorset, the
last beach she and Elizabeth visited together. Since then she
has walked the coast around Cornwall, Devon, Wales, Lancashire,
Cumbria, and into Scotland.
Over then next few days she will pass through Berriedale,
Dornoch and Fortrose as she makes her way south. She is
inviting anyone who would like to walk with her to join her for
part of the journey, and has already been joined by a whole host of
supporters, many of whom have also lost a child.
Natalia has already raised almost £75,000 and her
inspirational efforts have seen her nominated for Endurance
Fundraiser of the Year at the JustGiving Awards.
Natalia said, "The walk has been an enormous challenge,
particularly in the Highlands, as the coastline becomes more rugged
the further north I go. That being said, Scotland has been my
favourite place on my journey so far. The landscapes are just
breathtaking and while it is very remote, it is also very
"I have met so many kind and generous people and had so many
messages of support from people all over the country. I feel
blessed to experience so much compassion from people I have never
"Waking up to another day without Elizabeth is the most
difficult thing I have ever had to do, but I know she is with me
every step of the way. By completing this walk I will be able to
bring something positive from her passing. 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 we are so proud of everything
she has achieved. 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, and making certain
that her beautiful little girl won't be forgotten."
You can follow Natalia's journey at www.elizabethsfootprint.com
or on Facebook by searching 'Elizabeth's Footprint'. To donate,
You can vote for Natalia to win Endurance Fundraiser of the Year
. Voting closes on 12 October, with the winner announced at a
special ceremony on 22 November.
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