Octogenarian Trio to Walk Their Age in Miles for Acorns

When three friends with a combined age of 240 decided to fundraise for the hospices that support their area, they embraced the maths and came up with an 80-mile sponsored walk.

David Burman, Robbin Suffield and Jeff Masters will set off on their week-long challenge on Friday 3 September, aiming to raise vital funds for Acorns Children’s Hospice, Myton Hospice and The Shakespeare Hospice.

They will depart from Sharpness on the River Severn near Bristol, up to the River Avon and then to Wootton Wawen via the Stratford Canal, aiming to finish the following Friday, 10th September.

The trio are members of Henley-in-Arden Rotary Club and were inspired to come up with a challenge after the club’s three main fundraising activities for last year were lost – a charity golf day, a concert with the Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra and car parking at the Wootton Wawen bluebell woods.

Other regular activities such as marshalling at fun runs, coffee and cake events, tin shakes and social events also stopped.

In a normal year the club raises some £10,000 for good causes at home and overseas, including regularly backing these three hospices that support the Henley community.

The friends explained: “Our nonagenarian members asked what we youngsters were going to do to ensure our fund-raising record was maintained and hopefully improved upon, so that we could continue to give the necessary support.

“One bright spark suggested The Triple 80 Challenge and plotted it out and so here we are totally committed to give it our best shot.”

They have planned the route with care: “This route avoids any steep climbs, puts the prevailing wind on our backs and minimises the opportunities to get lost. Two people are walking at any time, whilst the spare man drives the support vehicle.

“Accommodation is booked for each night of the walk and involves three elderly gentlemen sharing a bedroom and a spell under canvas. It seems that the greater hardship will not be the walk but the night-time arrangements! We stress that all accommodation and sustenance is at the three participants’ expense, hence three sharing a room.”

David, a farmer and chemical engineer, is club president and said: “My thoughts concern my uncle who had his last few weeks in Myton Hospice. He was certainly not an easy gent to please but after a few days at Myton said to me, ‘This is a very happy place; the staff are wonderful, and I really am enjoying being here. It is like being on holiday’.

“Another friend was supported at The Shakespeare Hospice and said they were so kind, and she was helped so much that she said when I get better, I am coming here to be a helper, they seem to have great fun with us.”

President-elect Robbin, a geologist, was a runner for the Alzheimer’s Society into his 70s and helps to run a small local walking group. He added: “It’s win, win, win – our walk will give us some exercise and fellowship, and hopefully with the generosity of friends and the public, will help the three hospices to carry on their essential work – and my wife says she’ll benefit from a week’s peace and quiet!”

Jeff is a Past President of the club, a qualified Mechanic of the Mine and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineers, said: “I was involved with Solihull Mencap for some 30 years during which we also ran a home for the members. I could see the huge benefits a kind and caring staff bestowed and feel this is more so in a hospice.

“I saw this at first hand when a best friend and long-time walking companion who eventually succumbed to cancer went into to a hospice.”