71 year-old George Pert moved to Exeter in July 2017 with his wife, Veronica, and his dog, Ruaraidh. In their search for a local pub, George and Veronica came across the Tally Ho in Countess Wear where they saw beer mats and posters advertising Hospiscare’s Men’s Walk.
George explains, “I said to my wife, it looked like a good charity and the walk itself was something I could do with Ruaraidh. That’s how it all started. I made posters and put them up in the Tally Ho and in the village clubhouse where I live along with lots of sponsorship forms.
“I’ve taken part in Men’s Walk since 2019 with Ruaraidh and I had planned to take part in ‘Your Way’, adapted due to the pandemic, in 2021. I rang Hospiscare to ask for help with contacting the local residents where I live and asking them to sign up to Gift Aid and I was put in touch with the Events Fundraiser, Martin, who provided me with envelopes to hand deliver.
“It was around about this time last year that I started having prostate problems. I was rushed to A&E in March and diagnosed with enlarged benign prostate. Even though I had planned everything for Men’s Walk and gathered my sponsorship, I just wasn’t able to take part due to my health.
“I was really disappointed not to be part of Men’s Walk last year. At Millbrook Village, the retirement village where I live, we were able to select a charity of the year and the operator, Inspired Villages, matched the amount we raised. Last year, the residents chose Hospiscare which meant that with Inspired Village’s match-funding, we raised £6,677.94.”
After being in and out of hospital last year and undergoing lots of tests, George was rushed back to hospital in August with a suspected kidney infection: “I was immediately diagnosed with COVID-19, having caught it in hospital a few days earlier when I was being treated for a urinary tract infection. The doctors gave me a CT scan to establish if I had a kidney infection. The results revealed that I had prostate cancer which had already spread to my bones. The oncology consultant told me it was incurable.
“I’ve been receiving treatment and my doctors have helped manage my pain. When I got the newsletter from Hospiscare inviting me to take part in Men’s Walk, I knew I wanted to do it. The newsletter explained that there were two ways to take part this year: traditional or ‘Your Way’. Although I’m getting stronger, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to walk the 8-mile Double Locks’ route.
“I dropped a note to the fundraising team at Hospiscare and Martin got back to me. He remembered me and suggested that I do the ‘Your Way’ option and plan it in stages so that I can break it down into doable chunks. I’ll try and do some miles in the days leading up to the event and I hope to walk to Double Locks on 12 March to be part of the day itself, and hopefully meet some of the other supporters on the way.
“The landlord at the Tally Ho, which was the first pit stop on the traditional Men’s Walk route, has kindly agreed to let me put sponsorship forms in the pub and I’ll try and walk there and back with Ruaraidh in the week. A few of the regulars at the pub agreed to sponsor me immediately which is great.
“I’ve done all of my Men’s Walks with Ruaraidh so he’ll be joining me again this year and my son, Matthew, will come down from London to walk with me to Double Locks.
“Men’s Walk is such a great idea. There’s always such a good atmosphere on the day and I really want to make it to Double Locks to be a part of it.”
Men’s Walk returns on Saturday 12 March, sponsored by Wilkinson Grant. If you would like to join Men’s Walk in Hospiscare’s 40th Anniversary year, there are two ways to take part. Like George, you can choose to walk your own route (our routes!) in a location of your choice, or you can join the Hospiscare team and hundreds of supporters to walk the 8-mile route from Double Locks.
Whether walkers choose ‘Your Way’ or the Double Locks’ event, all of the Men’s Walk favourites will be part of their day: a bespoke beer courtesy of Exeter Brewery, a pasty from Chunk of Devon, a Men’s Walk t-shirt to wear on route and the promise of sitting down to watch the rugby at the finish line.
As the local hospice charity for Exeter, Mid and East Devon, we care for over 2,500 people every year. With just 18% of our funding coming from the NHS, and an income deficit of £1 million due to the pandemic, the hospice relies upon fundraising events like Men’s Walk to provide our specialist end-of-life care at no cost to our patients and their families.
To sign up to Men’s Walk 2022 and make a difference to local end-of-life care, click here.