30 miles in Mum’s shoes
Jen Quigley, of Weston-super-Mare, is taking on Weston Hospicecare’s Mendip Challenge this year on Sunday, 4th June. She’s signed up not only to celebrate her 30th birthday, which is just four days after the event, but also to walk 30 miles for the third time — all in an attempt to raise funds for Weston Hospicecare and to honour her mum Shirley, who is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.
‘Anyone who knows my Mum knows her journey and how she never feels sorry for herself, ploughs on through and just gets on with it,’ Jen said. ‘I honestly couldn’t be more proud of her. She has such admirable strength, both physically and mentally.’
Having been diagnosed with cancer 14 years ago, Shirley has had to endure frequent hospital visits along with various courses of treatment. According to Jen, to most people, it would appear that there is nothing wrong with her mum. Shirley has continued to work throughout, driven by the determination to not let cancer take over, but is currently undergoing a lengthy course of chemotherapy that has been quite challenging. With this tough road ahead of her, her daughters Jen and Jo have decided to travel a tough road themselves as a way of saying thank you to all of the people who give such valued support to families and individuals affected by life-limiting illnesses, including cancer.
Jen was initially inspired to do her first 30-mile challenge back in 2015 when her dad Martin expressed how much he enjoyed it. Martin, who turns 60 this year, has completed the walk three times before and keeps returning year after year.
The day itself brings so many together, with everyone cheering each other on and sharing stories with strangers, who by the end become part of the ‘walking family’, as Jen calls them. The atmosphere is fantastic, and many participants say that once they’ve finished, they’re buzzing with excitement, ready to take on the next year’s challenge.
‘My favourite part of the walk is the comradery it brings and the sense of such great achievement,’ Jen said.
However many miles people walk, it all brings a likeminded group of people together who want to make a difference to other people’s lives.
‘The walk covers such beautiful areas that I never knew existed, and I have always lived locally,’ said Jen. ‘The people you see doing this walk are everyday people, not just the athletic but also the everyday walker. Last year, we met a man who had walked the 30 miles with his dog, and he was in his seventies! Everyone should do it at least once, just to experience the feeling of doing something great whilst completing a fantastic challenge in beautiful surroundings (whether there is rain or sunshine). They will never forget, taking part, especially the blisters (but don’t worry they are soon forgotten!).’
Joining Jen on the walk will be her dad, Martin Quigley; her sister, Jo Quigley; her sister’s partner, Ed Studham; and her own partner, Ashley Starr.
The Mendip Challenge is Weston Hospicecare’s longest-running fundraiser, which sees hundreds of people walk (or run) 10, 20 or 30 miles across the West Mendip Way before ending up in Uphill. Participants set off from Uphill by a special bus to their starting locations in the morning, and when they return to Uphill following their walk, there are greeted by a celebration, complete with live music and a great atmosphere. There will also be food trucks on site, where participants can buy burgers, drinks, ice creams and more.
‘We rely on events like our Mendip Challenge to engage our supporters and help us raise vital funds,’ said Kelsey Dehaney, events coordinator at Weston Hospicecare. ‘We’re looking forward to having yet another wonderful Mendip Challenge!’
Last year’s Mendip Challenge helped to raise more than £54,000 for the hospice, and that money helps to fund the essential physical, social, emotional and psychological support the hospice staff provide to local people affected by life-limiting illnesses. With ever-increasing costs, the hospice hopes to raise even more this year.
‘Please give what you can to support such a great cause, who support so many people through such difficult times,’ Jen said.
If you’d like to donate to Team Quigs, which has already raised more than £800 for the hospice, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jen-Quigley. If their story has you feeling inspired to sign up to take on your very own Mendip Challenge, please visit http://www.westonhospicecare.org.uk/mendip to register. Registration closes on the 28th May.