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Bereaved mum to reach Ullapool on walk around UK
in daughter's memory
The mother of a five-year-old girl who passed away from a rare illness will soon arrive in Ullapool (expected Tues 13 Sept) as part of her ‘Walk of Love’ around the coast of Great Britain, to raise money in her daughter’s memory.
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 in Dorset in February and is now more than 3,000 miles into her journey.
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 on Valentine’s Day at Durdle Door in Dorset, the last beach she and Elizabeth visited together. Since then she has covered more than 3,000 miles around Cornwall, Devon, Wales, Lancashire, Cumbria, Dumfries & Galloway, Ayrshire and Argyll & Bute. She reaches Ullapool on Tuesday 13 September, her 182nd day of walking.
Next she will continue up the coast, passing through Morefield, Ardmair and around Loch Canaird. 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 more than £70,000 and her inspirational efforts have seen her nominated for Endurance Fundraiser of the Year at the JustGiving Awards.
Natalia said, "The walk has been incredibly challenging, and the coastline becomes more rugged and remote the further into the Highlands I go. That being said, Scotland has been my favourite place to walk so far. Every day I walk through breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, and I have been overwhelmed with people’s kindness and generosity. So many people have walked with me, offered me a cup of coffee or somewhere to stay.
“I have met so many inspiring people, especially other parents who have lost their precious children. 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 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 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, and before she had even reached the half way point on her journey, she had raised over £60,000.
“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 girlwon’t be forgotten.”
You can vote for Natalia to win Endurance Fundraiser of the Year at www.justgiving.com/awards/2016/voting/ . Voting closes on 12 October, with the winner announced at a special ceremony on 22 November.