Friends coast along to raise charity cash

A GROUP of rambling friends have completed the walk of a lifetime to raise almost £4,000 for the British Heart Foundation.

Rotarians Mel Jarvis, John Baldwin, Joe Grun and John Dixon battled weather conditions and their own health problems to complete the 13-day 190-mile coast to coast walk from St Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hood's Bay on the North Yorkshire coast.

Mr Jarvis, of Gretton, had a heart valve fitted five years ago and Mr Dixon suffers from angina.

Mr Dixon, 57, of Cottingham – who is president of Corby Phoenix Rotary Club – was diagnosed with angina 18 months ago and decided to take up walking in an effort to improve his health.

He said: "I had not walked long distances since the 1980s when I was a Scout leader so it was a huge challenge.

"After taking advice from the doctor I decided to take on the walk and it has improved my health.

"On the first day I had to use my medication spray three or four times but after that I did not need to use it again, as I got fitter and fitter."

Starting on the Cumbrian coast, the walk goes through the Lake District, crosses the Pennines, down into Swaledale and crosses the

Cleveland Hills to the finish.

The foursome walked for eight hours each day. Food was picked up on the way with stop-offs at B&Bs.

Mel Jarvis, who had a heart valve fitted in 2005, said: "We walked just under 200 miles and climbed about 30,000ft in just 13 days, including six days of the wettest weather imaginable.

"It was so wet that near Richmond in North Yorkshire we had to divert off the path because it was several feet under the River Swale".

He added: "We know the money raised will be put to good use, developing procedures to help the many others who suffer from heart complaints."

John Baldwin said: "As we grow older it's easy to slow down, especially if there is an inherent medical condition.

"The oldest of the four is 64, the youngest 55 and all of us feel so much better for the exercise."

The energetic quartet are raring to go again following this June's adventure.

Mr Grun said: "We have considered doing the walk from east to west but feel there are other trails to attempt so we hope to walk the Pennine Way."

The foundation's regional director for Northampton Terry Kinsman said; "As these men know, heart disease can affect us all. This is why the BHF is dedicated to saving lives every day through research, caring for patients and families, campaigning for change and by providing information.

"We urgently need the public's help because we rely on donations of time and money to continue our life-saving work."