A local entrepreneur and his oldest friend will tackle Weston Hospicecare’s 30-mile Mendip Challenge route to raise money for the charity.

Ben Whitwell, creative director at Benji Graphics in Weston, will follow the footsteps of his father by raising money for Weston Hospicecare with his friend Rich Rowe.

In 1998 Ben’s godmother was cared for by the hospice before she died, sparking a whole host of fundraising efforts from Ben’s father.

Ben said: “My godmother Val Douell, who I called ‘Auntie Val’, was looked after by Weston Hospicecare when she passed away in 1998.

“Following her death my Dad, Mike Whitwell, started raising money for WHC through long-distance bike rides and raised over £20,000 – rides included John O’Groats to Land’s End and Paris to London.”

Sadly, he was later diagnosed with cancer and was cared for by the hospice before he died in 2007.

Ben continued: “Weston Hospicecare looked after my dad when he passed away from cancer in 2007. The support he, and my family, had from Weston Hospicecare was incredible.

“I will never forget the night my father died with all of us around his bed, he seemed completely at peace, he had his dignity and we had a quiet space to be together afterwards.

“He was genuinely cared for in his final days in a quiet, professional yet personal environment. You can’t ask for much more than that.”

Ben has followed on from his dad to raise thousands for the charity meaning the family have supported the charity for more than two decades and raised more than £30,000 to support the hospice.

Ben said: “In 2008, on what would have been my father’s 60th birthday, a group of friends and I rode from Weston to Land’s End, raising £8,000. The following year I took part in the Mendip Challenge raising £3,000 with two friends.

“Weston Hospicecare is vital for our area, the staff there are fantastic and are helping patients and families at the most difficult time in their lives.”

He has also volunteered at events and also now assists the charity’s communications team providing creative artwork designs to support events via his business Benji Graphics.

The Mendip Challenge is the charity’s flagship fundraising event and offers participations a chance to walk 10, 20 or 30 miles across the Mendip Hills.

Last year, it raised more than £66,000 with nearly 900 people taking part on what was a scorching day.

This year, spaces are filling up fast and organisers expect up to 1,100 supporters completing the course.

Entry costs £15 for adults and £10 for children, this includes transport to the appropriate start point after registering at Weston Cricket Club. It also includes a celebratory after-party with live music where food and drink will be available to buy. 

For more information about the event and how to guarantee your place, visit westonhospicecare.org.uk/mendip. Due to high demand this year, hospice staff are unable to guarantee spaces for sign-ups on the day.

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