Throw your hat in the ring for big Mother’s Day walk

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This year’s Crazy Hats Walk, the 10th since it first began, takes place on Sunday, March 18 – Mother’s Day.

Features editor Joni Ager finds out why this is a better reason than ever to take part.

Annette Fox and her daughter Kelly Burton will be celebrating Mother’s Day in a special way next weekend.

Annette has was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago. After her diagnosis she wanted to do something to say thanks for the treatment she received and signed up to take part in the Crazy Hats Walk, a five-mile walk around Wicksteed Park.

The walk was the creation of Glennis Hooper, founder of the Crazy Hats Appeal, and it is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the charity, which raises money for breast cancer care and equipment in Northamptonshire.

Annette, 57, of Irthlingborough, will take part in her fourth Crazy Hats Walk next Sunday with a group of 15 friends and family, including her husband Pete and daughter Kelly.

She said: “It’s brilliant. You really feel like you are putting something back. It’s really quite emotional.

“It makes you feel like you are not on your own, there are so many people affected by it and you just feel part of a team. Everyone there has been in your position or knows someone and they understand.”

Her husband Pete Knell, 64, who has taken part in each walk with Annette, said: “It makes you feel as if you are part of something big.

“It is good to know you are giving to a charity – a charity that is close to my heart and clearly in the county’s heart.”

Annette and her family have raised more than £10,000 since they started doing the walk.

Another mother and daughter taking part next Sunday will be Barbara Hale and her 14-year-old daughter Courtney, of Burton Latimer.

This will be their first walk and they are walking for Barbara’s sister who had cancer when she was 16. She is now doing well and is a mum to four children, but it remains a cause close to the family’s hearts.

Barbara, 48, said: “It is a really horrible thing to go through.”

Reem Salman will also be embarking on her first Crazy Hats Walk next Sunday.

Reem, 33, of Northampton, who will be walking with her finance Andy, said: “I was diagnosed in 2009 and I went through the rigours of breast cancer treatment.

“Afterwards I wanted to do something big so I helped to sell Crazy Hats badges and Christmas cards. I just wanted to play my part.

“When I was going to the oncology unit at Northampton General Hospital I saw the Crazy Hats coffee bar there and I could see that it made a difference.

“What they are doing mattered a lot to me when I was ill. You’re not just going there thinking, ‘Oh no, I’ve got treatment again’. It takes your mind off it and makes you feel better knowing there are people out there helping.”

So far, 1,300 people have signed up to take part, which is down on the number usually registered at this stage.

Organisers say this could be because the walk falls on Mother’s Day, but Glennis says this is a perfect reason to take part this year.

She said: “We are restricted a bit as to when we can have the park but we honestly felt that having the walk on Mother’s Day was an ideal time because breast cancer is primarily a women’s disease but it also affects the whole family.

“What better day is there to remember your mum or to walk with your mum or your daughter.

“We understand that a lot of people will have plans on Mother’s Day but we are really hoping to break the record and have 3,000 walkers and the potential is there to do that.

“I know we are going to have a great day.”