Globetrotting Sheffield woman’s epic charity walk in memory of lost loved ones

Bernie and Helen Hunter.
Bernie and Helen Hunter.

A globetrotting Sheffield woman who lost several close family members to cancer has walked more than 2500 miles around the world to raise thousands of pounds for charity.

Stannington woman Helen Hunter was determined to do something to help people suffering from cancer after losing both parents, her son, sister-in-law and several friends to the disease.

So in January she set herself the challenge of walking 2500 miles within the calendar year for Cancer Research.

After trekking in the wind, rain and sunshine across parts of Sheffield, the Peak District and abroad in Denmark, Malta and Crete, the grandmother-of-five smashed her target and completed her challenge.

The 63-year-old started the final leg in Grindleford before finishing with a warm welcome from friends and family at her local pub the Crown and Glove on Sunday, July 31.

Helen said: “Losing anyone to cancer is heartbreaking and it affects so many people.

“The people I have lost inspired me through all of the walks.

“I love walking anyway so I thought it would be a great opportunity to raise money for cancer charities to help other people battling the disease.

“I’ve been to some great places and have really enjoyed the experience. Thanks to everyone for the donations.”

The former mental health nurse walked on 195 days, averaging more than 13 miles per day, and raised about £2200 for Cancer Research.

Donations have come in from friends, family and anonymous well-wishers who picked up cards that she left along the routes detailing her challenge and how to donate.

As she has reached her target several months early, determined Helen is striding ahead with further walks for the remainder of the year.

She said: “I’m going to carry on walking right through to January next year - which was my original target.

“I’m setting myself a new challenge of reaching 5000 miles, that would be fantastic but I’ll have to see how it goes.”

She and husband Bernie are planning to tackle the National Three Peaks Challenge, which involves reaching the peaks of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon within 24 hours.

They are also aiming to complete part of a coast-to-coast walk.

‎Helen lost her mum Mabel to cancer at age 38 in 1964, her son Davis Jon age three in 1980, dad John in 2001 and sister-in-law Susan in 2012, along with a number of friends.

She has documented her experiences walking and how her lost loved ones have inspired her along the way in a series of journals.

Helen said: “I have thought about maybe trying to put them together into a book. I think it might make an interesting read for a lot of people.”

Bernie, aged 57, a retired principal at Hope Valley College, said: “I am so proud of Helen. When you count it all up she has walked the equivalent of one month without stopping. What an amazing achievement.”

Anyone who would like to donate can visit www.justgiving.com/Helen-Hunter6