Weston Hospicecare’s flagship Mendip Challenge event broke all previous fundraising records in 2019, it can be revealed today – raising an incredible £81,217.
The event is the biggest in the Weston-super-Mare charity’s annual calendar, and invites participants to take on sponsored 10, 20 or 30-mile walking routes through Somerset’s Mendip Hills.
The June challenge – sponsored by Howards Motor Group – has been running almost as long as the hospice, and has enjoyed a substantial growth in popularity in the past few years.
A bumper turnout this year saw 1,094 lace up their walking boots to take part – an increase of more than 200 on the previous year – and that has translated into extra income too, as walkers collect sponsorship in recognition of their trekking efforts.
The £81,217 is up by £15,167 on the 2018 total of £66,050 – an increase of 23 per cent.
Weston Hospicecare event manager Grace Didben said: “We’re enormously grateful to everyone who took part in this year’s Mendip Challenge, both for their good cheer and commitment on the day, and their fabulous fundraising efforts too.
“We were thrilled with how many people took part this year, and loved meeting them all at the finish line to hear their stories and celebrate their achievements.
“They have done Weston Hospicecare proud by raising such a fabulous amount of money to support the hospice’s vital work supporting people with life-limiting illnesses across Weston and northern Somerset.”
Participants came from all across southern England to take part this year – some from as far afield as Jersey – while several teams and local companies took part in bulk to help boost the fundraising total.
The Priory Learning Trust – whose six schools all adopted the hospice as their charity of the year – recruited around 100 walkers, while 1st King Alfred Scouts entered too after the youngsters took responsibility for raising their own entry fees.
A team from Stoneleigh Care Home – participating as the Walking Warriors – raised £1,120, a group from Mayfair Town & Country collected £690, and work friends from Handelsbanken who took part in memory of Stuart Hastings donated £1,148.
Team Jen raised £1,627 in memory of Jen Brine, The Soul Sisters contributed £1,070, The Stragglers collected £1,755, Ali’s Angels raised £644 and Bee Team donated £495.
Weston Athletic Club entered en masse too, with many of its members running the full 30 miles – including two athletes, Lee Francis and Emma Lane, who clocked up 60 miles by running through the night from Weston to the start point in Wells, before running back again to the event HQ at Weston Cricket Club.
Howards Motor Group not only sponsored both the event and souvenir water bottles for all participants to cut down on plastic waste, but also entered a 19-strong staff team which raised in excess of £1,000.
Spokesman Peter Haynes said: “Howards Group is delighted to continue its support of Weston Hospice, a charity that has become very dear to our hearts over the years of our association.
“It’s also hugely rewarding for us to see an increasing number of Howards employees becoming directly involved in fundraising events such as the Mendip Challenge, which makes the relationship between our company and Weston Hospicecare ever stronger.
“We very much look for to continuing our involvement and support of this fabulous charity in the years ahead and in helping them to continue providing the essential care they offer to those living in our local community.”
The next Mendip Challenge will take place on 7 June 2020. Further details and registration details will be published at www.westonhospicecare.org.uk once confirmed.