More than 500 people dug out their walking boots and took to the hills for the annual Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge yesterday (Sunday, September 13).
The annual event, supporting local charity Rennie Grove Hospice Care, returned for its seventh year.
Individuals, colleagues, families, friends and dogs came together to tackle either a five, nine or 18-mile route along the Ridgeway, starting in Princes Risborough.
Those choosing to do the five mile option walked the first two peaks – Whiteleaf Cross and Coombe Hill – while the nine and 18-mile participants were also challenged with the third peak of Ivinghoe Beacon.
Among those taking part was John Groves – son of Dr Mary Groves who played an instrumental role in setting up one of Rennie Grove’s founding charities, Grove House.
Mary saw the need for specialist services to support local cancer patients and their families and, as a founding member of Grove House, she is now also a co-president of Rennie Grove Hospice Care.
“I’m really proud of my mother and of all that she’s achieved,” said John.
“The charity is so important in the local community and helps thousands of patients and their families each year who are suffering from life-limiting illnesses, at no cost to them.”
John, who is also one of the charity’s vice presidents, recognises the importance of events like the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge in order to fund the services provided. He walked the full 18-mile route with his friend David Webber and they have already raised £4,000 in sponsorship.
Also taking on the 18mile challenge and raising money for Rennie Grove was Tim Perkins from Berkhamsted.
He was joined by colleagues Jo Lockwood and Rebecca Wood, who all work for Waitrose. They said: “We took part in the event last year and it’s a lovely way to spend a Sunday and an opportunity to raise some money for a worthwhile local charity.
“We’re on target to raise over £200, which is fantastic, and we’ve had a great day out at the same time.”
Friends Gemma Walker and Emma Benoist from Tring took part in a team after seeing a flyer in the paper.
“I love walking and I love the countryside,” says Gemma. “I lost my mum two and a half years ago to cancer in Spain, and I know how important charity nurses were for her.
“It’s nice to be able to help a local cause, and it’s great motivation to keep going.”
Amanda and Paul Chaplin and their dogs Oscar and Cocoa were joined by Rachel Chaplin and Paul Dumpleton in walking 18 miles.
The Tring-based group said: “It was a lovely walk which was really well organised and it was a real bonus that the weather was just right.”
A work team from WDE Consulting in Tring also tackled the 18-mile route for the first time.
The geo-environmental consultants signed up in July as a team-building exercise. Simon Ware said: “We had a really good experience today. The weather was perfect and we learned a lot about each other. We would definitely do it again!”
The event would not have been possible without the support of Arriva buses as volunteer drivers give up their time every year to ensure that participants can travel between peaks and back to their cars at the end of the challenge.
Gillian Barnett, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Rennie Grove, says: “It was a beautiful day for the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge and there was a real family-friendly atmosphere.
“I’d like to thank everyone who came along to support the event, and special thanks must also go to Arriva buses and to our volunteer marshals.
“2015 marks our milestone of providing 30 Years of Care, and with the number of patients and families relying on our services predicted to rise steeply, our fundraising events are more important than ever.
“We’re encouraging everyone who took part to raise as much sponsorship as possible to help us reach our £30,000 target, which would fund a nurse for a year.”
The Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge is one of nine mass-participants fundraising events organised by Rennie Grove Hospice Care, which play a key role in helping the charity to raise 85 per cent of its £6.7 million annual costs.
The next event organised by Rennie Grove Hospice Care is the Muddy Mucker, which will take place on Sunday 27 September at the Penn House Estate, Amersham.
To find out more about this and other forthcoming events, visit www.renniegrove.org/events or call 01442 820740.