Walking challenge sees more than £9,000 raised for Kettering charity

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A walking challenge has seen more than £9,000 raised for a Kettering charity which helps people with their mental health.

The idea was the brainchild of diet and fitness teacher Miranda Menzies, who was inspired to help the charity after the son of one of her class members took his own life.

Miranda said: “Last year sadly one of my long-term members had an awful event happening in her life, her son took his own life and had been suffering from mental health problems for some time beforehand.

“I had been watching the charity Johnny’s Happy Place (JHP) in Rockingham Road, Kettering, and were very impressed with the work that they do within the community.

“This sad event really spurred me on to come up with a challenge for my members which was physical yet could raise the awareness of mental health.

“The four reservoir challenge was born which involved walking around four reservoirs over four months – and each challenge got progressively longer.

“In March we began at Sywell reservoir and we walked 2.5 miles. Our final walk was in June where we walked either 17 or 23 miles around Rutland water on the worst weather day of all!

“Hundreds of my members got behind me, we completed the challenges and we raised more than £9,000.

“JHP said that this is the largest amount by far raised by one group which made me even more proud of my supporters.”

The walking challenge is not the first time Miranda and her members have come together to raise money for good causes.

She said: “Each year I think to myself this will be the final challenge yet I come up with another idea and everyone gets behind it.

“I first started teaching diet and fitness classes in Kettering and Corby in 1995.

“Right from the word go we began Race for Life and other worthwhile causes annually.

“We supported the Crazy Hats Walk for more than 10 years, raising in excess of £35,000 during that time and entering the largest team.

“Last year I took a team of 60 members to London and we walked a marathon at night wearing just our bras – raising more than £20,000 for breast cancer.

“Also I managed a personal challenge of coming fifth place in the whole event in a time of about 5.5 hours, which I’m told is quite good for walking.

“We celebrated the 20th anniversary of the classes by running an aerobathon for Cransley Hospice and we raised just under £5,000 for that.

“Every September we have a MacMillan coffee morning at my home and we raise over £1,000 too.

“I have had many people attend my classes for lots of years and we all stay fit and healthy by by attending the weekly sessions and motivating one another these fundraising events really do help to bring us all closer.

“In 2005 I suffered a massive brain haemorrhage while I was out running.

“Even though the doctors were not hopeful I would survive, let alone make a full recovery, my members supported me every step of the way.

“I will never forget their support and I like to try and give as much back to them and the local community as much as I can.

“I want to say a huge thank you to all of my supporters who have attended my classes over the years and have supported me in my fundraising efforts.”