Record year for Bure Valley Railway Walk in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support
A record 320 people took part in the annual Bure Valley Railway Walk at the weekend, raising many thousands of pounds for Macmillan Cancer Support.
The ninth two-day event saw adults, children and dogs travel between stations on the Aylsham to Wroxham miniature steam railway and then walk back along the trackside path.
There was added excitement for yesterday morning's walkers when a trackside fire broke out between Wroxham and Belaugh Green at about 11.30am.
It was dealt with by the fire brigade and did not interfere with the path, although walkers were warned about drifting smoke. The incident also delayed the mainline Norwich to Sheringham train at Wroxham for about five minutes.
Walk organiser Andrew Hadley said they had collected at least £17,000 before the weekend and hoped that when final sponsorship money came in, the grand total would be more than £30,000.
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Mr Hadley said he was delighted at the number of people taking part which was more than 100 up on last year.
'There are so many deserving charities and for people to be so generous is truly moving,' he said. 'Just about everyone is doing it in memory of someone.
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'Many are grateful for the help their families had from Macmillan nurses and want to give something back,' said Mr Hadley, 59, from Coltishall, who is Macmillan's voluntary ambassador for Norfolk and Suffolk.
He has himself raised over £300,000 for the charity since 1978 when his father, sister and a nephew died within six weeks of each other, all suffering from cancer.
If the £30,000 total is reached with this year's walk, it would represent a record amount, apart from an out-of-the-ordinary boost four years ago.
Mr Hadley explained that he had been about to take part in a Macmillan fund-raiser to Machu Picchu, in Peru.
But three weeks before he was due to go, he fell and broke his leg in three places. With his trip cancelled, Mr Hadley decided to give his £22,000 sponsorship to the Bure Valley walk, boosting its total that year to £48,000.
Neil Saunders, 51, from Thorpe Marriott, walked 18 miles, from Wroxham to Aylsham and back again on Saturday, and hopes to have raised about £250 in sponsorship.
He tackled the walk with Jane Needs, manager at NatWest, in Dereham, where he works as a customer services officer.
'I have had relatives who have used Macmillan and I think it's important that they get the support back. A cure's many years off and people need support now which is what Macmillan gives them,' said Mr Saunders, who hopes to boost his total to at least £4,350 when he undertakes to walk to Everest base camp with a Macmillan party in November.
Groups from 3rd Aylsham Guides set out on both Saturday and Sunday walks and expect to raise more than £700 between them, according to guider Di Scott.
Three of yesterday's group were walking in memory of a schoolfriend's mother who had died from the disease.
Mr Hadley said he had been pleased to note a larger number of young people walking this year. He had earlier visited the high schools at Aylsham, Broadland, Stalham and Reepham, telling 4,000 pupils about the walk and the work of Macmillan.
And this year also saw the introduction of two railway walk trophies, one for the school and the other for the group which raised most money for the cause.
All monies raised will be spent on Macmillan projects in Norfolk, providing sufferers and their families with practical, medical and financial support.