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Forever Friends Appeal walk celebrates a decade of support

The Forever Friends Appeal’s “Walk of Life” is about to celebrate a milestone 10 year anniversary – and staff and supporters at the Appeal couldn’t be more grateful for all of the support they have received over the years.

The Walk of Life, proudly sponsored by Kier Construction, is an annual event that challenges men and women across Bath, Somerset and Wiltshire to walk 21 miles along the Kennet and Avon canal between Devizes and Bath; walkers can choose to raise funds for the RUH Cancer Care Campaign, or a ward or department of their choice at Bath’s Royal United Hospital.

The walk was created in 2008 in memory of Vanessa Kyte (pictured with Dianne Young and Nicola Noble) – a remarkably inspirational mum, daughter, sister, wife and friend who was diagnosed with cancer in the year 2000. Seven years on, Vanessa passed away at her home in Rudge with her family around her and this weekend will see the eighth anniversary of Vanessa’s death.

Vanessa’s sister Nic Noble comments: “It was 10 years ago when my sister Ness and I first approached Nina Rack, the former Corporate Officer at the Appeal, with an idea to hold a fundraising walk around the RUH’s catchment area to raise money for a new Cancer Centre at the hospital.”

The walk started off as “March Miles” which would soon become known as the “Walk of Life”, a 21 mile walk taking place along the Kennet & Avon canal, starting from Devizes and ending in Bath. Before Vanessa passed away in 2007, she had managed to raise an incredible £100,000 for the RUH Cancer Care Campaign. Since 2007 the Walk of Life has continued to go from strength to strength, with more walkers joining the walk every year.

The Appeal are now excited to announce that the 10th annual Walk of Life will take place on Saturday 14th May 2016. The Walk of Life 2015 is a positive walk to celebrate life, and sets off from Devizes Wharf, heads along the Kennet and Avon canal through Bradford-On-Avon and finishes just off the canal pathway in Sydney Gardens, Bath. Walkers can choose to walk 9, 12 or 21 miles and are encouraged to raise sponsorship to go towards a pioneering new Cancer Centre.

Nic continues: “Never in my wildest dreams did we imagine the walk would be so successful. Since 2006 the Walk of Life has managed to raise over £255,000 for the RUH Cancer Care Campaign as well as other wards and departments at the RUH. So please join us on Saturday 14th May 2016 in a walk that has become a legacy to my beautiful strong sister, Nessa”.

One in two people are now affected by cancer and everyday lives are changed by this disease. The Forever Friends Appeal’s RUH Cancer Care Campaign is raising £8.5million towards the building of a pioneering new Cancer Centre. This Cancer Centre will be a state of the art building, with every part designed around the needs of patients with different forms of cancer. It will transform care for patients and their families at the RUH.

Over 300 people took part in this year’s 2015 Walk of Life, some to celebrate the memory of lost loved ones, others to fundraise in support of friends or family members who are being treated at the RUH. Many were brave enough to take on the full 21 mile challenge, whilst others chose to walk 12 miles in the morning from Devizes to Bradford-On-Avon or 9 miles in the afternoon from Bradford-On-Avon to Bath. The 2015 Walk of Life was a huge success, raising over £30,000 for both the RUH Cancer Care Campaign and other wards and departments at the hospital.

2016 will be the third year that construction company, Kier, has sponsored this popular annual event. Kier is working in partnership with the RUH Bath NHS Trust on the redevelopment of the hospital site.

Kier director, David Snell said: “I personally enjoyed the 21 mile walk earlier this year and I’m really looking forward to next year’s walk. Our staff are determined to raise even more for Forever Friends in 2016.”

Open to both men and women, people are now being encouraged to sign up early for 2016 so they can start kick start their training and fundraising. Early bird registrations are now open for the 2016 Walk of Life at a discounted price of £15 per place when you sign up online via The Forever Friends website before 31st January 2016.

Events & Community Officer for The Forever Friends Appeal, Emily Lynch comments: “Over the last 10 years, the Appeal have been overwhelmed by the growing support for the Walk of Life, we are thrilled that the event has managed to raise over £255,000 for the RUH. Looking ahead to next year’s we are thrilled to once again be working with the incredible team at Kier Construction; we will be working with them on exciting plans to improve the overall event experience for our walkers. We hope that as many people as possible will take advantage of our early bird online registrations between now and January, to help us boost the Walk of Life’s overall total to over £300,000 as a tribute to Vanessa. To sign up to help transform care for patients and their families at the RUH, simply visit: www.foreverfriendsappeal.co.uk”

Volunteer marshals are located on various locations along the Walk of Life route – handing out water, refreshments and encouragement. Please contact the Appeal if you would like to volunteer your time to help marshal at the event. To sign up for the 2016 Walk of Life online visit our Walk of Life page or call the events team on 01225 825823 for more information.

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