A long walk for charity

Mark Lewis and Drew Turner, who will be walking from Land's End to Halifax in memory of Drew's mother Rebecca
Mark Lewis and Drew Turner, who will be walking from Land's End to Halifax in memory of Drew's mother Rebecca
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It’s 20 years since Rebecca Turner died of skin cancer. Her son and brother are marking the date. Catherine Scott reports.

Rebecca Turner was just 27 when she died of skin cancer. Her son Drew was just two years old.

Drew's mother Rebecca

Drew's mother Rebecca

Despite her courage and determination Rebecca lost the fight and her life after just 16 weeks.

“It all happened so quickly,” says her brother, Mark.

“I didn’t really have time to come to terms with it.”

Rebecca and her family were supported by a Macmillan nurse whom Mark remember as being “a reassuring and calming presence”.

It is 20 years since Rebecca died and Mark, 49, and Drew, now 22, are embarking 
on a 676-mile walk to raise money and awareness for Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK 
to mark the anniversary of her death.

They will set off from Land’s End on August 16, and have set themselves the challenge of walking home to Halifax – 26 miles a day for 26 days to raise £26,000.

The pair are already more than halfway to their total and are busy training for the challenge.

“It’s hard and a lot of pressure” says Drew, “but it’s worth it, to support the amazing work Cancer Research UK and Macmillan are doing; to help families deal with what my mum was faced with.”

Mark adds: “I challenge anybody to do it, not just once but to get up day after day and do 26 miles, and to realise how difficult it is.

“Our first walk was just 10 miles and afterwards I struggled to walk down stairs, then we progressed to 14-15 miles long and began to wonder whether it was actually possible. We are now walking 26-29 miles back to back.

“It felt really important to do something significant to mark Rebecca’s passing and honour her memory” says Mark.

“I know it’s going to be a test both mentally and physically but it will be an achievement we can both be proud of, something Rebecca would be proud of.”

The walk was originally conceived by Mark as one million steps. Having calculated the distance (it was approximately 385 miles) he checked on Google and found that was the approximate distance to Land’s End and the idea was born.

It was only sometime later when working on the logistics and planning the actual route that the walk evolved to be the 676 mile epic and the idea of 26 miles for 26 days to raise £26k was created.

During the walk a driver will be accompanying the pair in a motor home provided by Huddersfield company Lowdhans.

“When we first decided to do this challenge, it was important to us that every penny raised goes directly to the charities,” said Mark.

“Therefore any help or support along the way, whether food, drink or simply encouragement will be very much appreciated.”

Drew adds: “Just one night in a proper bed after weeks of walking will be a huge help!”

While the nephew and uncle are close, the extra challenge and pressure of spending every minute together for a month provides an added challenge.

“It’s a long time, and when we’re both tired and struggling, tensions can, and no doubt will, build.”

“We want to do something to make a real difference, to help families coping with cancer and also to contribute to help finding a cure for cancer – any donation no matter how large or small is very much appreciated.”

While wanting to raise vital funds for the charities the pair also feel it important to raise awareness particularly with regard to the risks of skin cancer many of which can easily be avoided.

They hope the, walk dubbed The Long Walk Home, will raise awareness to reduce the number of people suffering skin cancer.

They are starting the awareness campaign, with the help of members of the Cancer Research laboratory team from Leeds, by introducing pupils from Lightcliffe CE (VA) Primary School where Mark’s children are pupils, to the benefits of science and its contribution, to medicine and finding a cure.

The men have been overwhelmed by support they have received so far which they say has been amazing and both Drew and Mark would like to thank their sponsors, and particularly their corporate sponsors, for their enormous generosity to date.

• If you would like to donate you can Text MLEW55 £2/ £5/ £10 for Macmillan to 70070. Text MLEW56 £2/ £5/ £10 for Cancer Research to 70070. Log on to www.justgiving.com/teams/Markanddrewslongwalkhome

Follow the pair on Twitter to keep up to date with the progress: @longwalkhome14