‘Mind-blowing’ turnout sees Cambridgeshire charity the Malcolm Whales Foundation raise thousands from lockdown trek
- Credit: Archant
Families, couples and friends from across the Fens came together to take part in an annual walk to raise over £20,000 for a Cambridgeshire charity.
Usually, the Malcolm Whales Foundation holds ‘The Dorset Walk’ event each year since 2009, spanning 40 miles along the Dorset coast from Weymouth seafront to Studland Beach.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, those wanting to take part were encouraged to walk 40 miles to and from their homes between Friday, July 10 and Sunday, July 12, which usually includes many schoolchildren from Cambridgeshire.
Since the charity was formed by Damien Whales in memory of his late father Malcolm, who died following a battle with bowel cancer in 2008, £255,000 has been raised and over 1,200 people have taken part.
“We had 450 people take part, the most we have ever had,” Damien said.
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“People have done all sorts of things, from running half-marathons, walking 40 miles, families walking over the week, younger families cycling, people walking in Dubai and China, everywhere.
“There is a massive contingent in Cambridgeshire. We’re proving it can be done and will help the charities that are unable to fundraise. It is absolutely mind-blowing.”
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Participants shared photos on social media while en-route during the ‘Non-Dorset Walk’, where there was also a strong turnout from teachers and students.
The foundation has supported several charities since its launch, as well as creating ‘The Malcolm Whales Garden’ in the Woodlands Centre at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.
Due to this year’s success, Damien hopes to stage two events next year as he hopes to continue the positive impact on the wider community.
“What we’ll do next year is run a Dorset and non-Dorset walk. It has shown us the accessibility of this version is so useful and unfair to take part only if you could get to Dorset,” he said.
“The number of notifications was incredible. I care enormously about it, but having so many people desperately wanting to take part has opened it up to more people.
“I thought my phone was going to explode because of the number of notifications I received.
“Even if you wanted to cycle 20 miles, that’s fine. It was an opportunity for people to know that others were walking, running and cycling at the same time. It’s an amazing feeling.”