No Gain Without Pain for Nocturnal Walkers

Donisthorpe Hall endurance walkers who trekked through the night on a twenty-four hour marathon earned the respect of local MP Fabian Hamilton.

Through sunshine and showers, exhaustion, blisters, and discomfort, the twenty-six adventurers participated in a gruelling round-the-clock challenge often pushing themselves to the limit to raise in excess of £20,000 for the 182-bed care home.

Cheering from the sidelines Mr Hamilton, who sent them on their way on Sunday morning from Golden Acre Park, praised the nocturnal walkers’ “strength, courage and determination.”

“Donisthorpe is at the heart of our community so the walkers performed a huge mitzvah. There’s no gain without pain but the cause could not be beaten and neither could the walkers,” he said.

The Endurance Walkers at the start of the challenge
The Endurance Walkers at the start of the challenge

The event, now in its second year, is brain-child of Leeds pharmacist Ashley Cohen, who invited energetic members of the community to give up 24 hours to walk through Yorkshire countryside.

The 62-mile walking route — participants could choose how many miles they walked — started at Leeds Golden Acre park on Sunday morning with two children and a dog included in the start-off line.

Some of our younger walkers (Sara and Liora - pictured here with Sara's mother Rowena) managed an impressive 23 miles.
Some of our younger walkers (Sara and Liora – pictured here with Sara’s mother Rowena) managed an impressive 23 miles.

The event terminated at Donisthorpe Hall on Monday as nearly 100 supporters gathered to hail the conquering heroes.

The amateur walkers have been in training for three months — many felt the camaraderie was intense and each gave support to others.

The night section was tough but tired walkers soldiered on and at dawn’s early light were left exhausted but strangely exhilarated.

“I’d do it again,” said working mum Shirley Solk, who walked 22 miles. “We had a wonderful crowd and perfect weather. I did eight miles more than last year and I loved it.”

Husband and wife team Richard and Shelley Peel said “it was an unbelievable experience. It’s great to achieve your goals irrespective of walking the whole course or part way. The camaraderie and support were amazing.”

For Howard Bott there was an incentive to keep fit. HeHHHHHHH walked as far as Gildersome with “the most fantastic company,” and had the greatest admiration for those who completed the challenge.

Daniel Myers was impressed with how walkers pushed themselves to “do more than they could ever imagine.”

He recalled a “scary moment” when reaching a stile in a field to find the other side completely blocked by a herd of cattle.

“Some loud stick bashing managed to clear them away so we could get through — but it was a bit nerve-wracking.”

Sponsors for the event were Gill and Geoff Caplan, Manning Stainton and Beaverbrooks, whose generosity enabled every donation to go directly towards a sensory garden for the home’s 78-bed dementia unit.

Donisthorpe chairman Andrew Brown described the result as absolutely brilliant — “the effort the walkers and volunteers put in to this challenge was unbelievable,” while fundraiser Alexandra Myers said “the event went beyond expectations.

“Having witnessed what they endured in 24-hours was staggering. I am truly humbled by their endeavours, they are Donisthorpe’s heroes.”

Some of the walkers at the end of the 24 hour challenge
Some of the walkers at the end of the 24 hour challenge

The walk was structured and managed by Carnegie Great Outdoors who provided invaluable support.

Carnegie’s Martin Rivett said conditions were great, “most walkers learned from last year, particularly about foot care, so it’s been a brilliant effort.

“It was an absolute pleasure helping to make the event happen. I can honestly say this event is a highlight in the Great Carnegie Outdoors calendar.

“The walkers really dug deep on this one, more focussed and more determined. I’m immensely proud of them.”


by John Fisher