It is an event which began as a continuation of a mum-of-two’s fundraising, after her death .
But five years on, the walk set up in Vanessa Kyte’s name is mushrooming into one of the major events in the calendar for the hospital she battled so hard to help.
Vanessa was 43 when she lost a seven-year battle with cancer in 2007 at her home in Rudge, near Frome in Somerset.
During that time, she had managed to run a half marathon amid a long series of charity adventures and raised more than £100,000 for Bath’s Royal United Hospital, which treated her for so long, as well as Dorothy House Hospice and cancer charities.
The following year, her family decided to continue her work and organised a 21-mile charity walk along the Kennet and Avon canal. Just a handful of people took part, but this year it has attracted almost 200 people to the towpath between Devizes and the city.
This year, the hospital’s fundraising drive is for cancer care, with a major announcement on a multi-million pound new cancer centre due at the end of May.
Tim Hobbs, who leads the Forever Friends fundraising team, said he was very pleased Vanessa’s Walk of Life is becoming more popular than ever. “This is a very exciting period for us as we prepare to launch what will be the main focus of our work over the next four years,” he said. “Participants will be helping us kick off this major new development in the Cancer Care Campaign.”
Staff at the RUH are among those joining Vanessa’s family and friends this month. The hospital’s biochemistry team is led by Amanda Speed, who took part in the Walk of Life for the first time last year.
“Last year I signed up to take part on my own, but I met some lovely people on the day – walkers and supporting staff,” she said.
“It was a truly great day out and I would recommend it to anyone. The sentiments at the start at the Devizes Wharf almost had me in tears – reading everybody’s heartfelt messages.
“This year we have had some really lovely training walks with colleagues, seeing areas of the countryside we wouldn’t otherwise have known about.”
The walk has even got itself a sponsor, Bath-based national property management company Touchstone, and in recognition for her work in continuing Vanessa’s efforts, her sister Nicola has been chosen to carry the Olympic flame when it goes through Dorset in July.
This year’s walk sets off from Devizes Wharf at 9am on Saturday, May 26, and heads along the canal to Bath, through Bradford on Avon. Walkers can sign up to take part in the full 21-mile walk from Devizes to Bath, the 12 miles in the morning from Devizes to Bradford on Avon or the nine miles in the afternoon from Bradford on Avon to Bath.
Sign up for the 2012 Walk of Life at www.foreverfriendsappeal.co.uk or call the events team on 01225 821535 for more information.