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Simon’s story: My 30-mile ‘Yomp’ in memory of Natalie

Simon honours the memory of his late wife, Natalie, with an incredible fundraising challenge

Natalie Haworth was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 at just 27 years-old. Her husband, Simon, explains, “It came as a complete shock – a cancer diagnosis is not something you’re expecting in your 20s. Natalie underwent treatment and reconstructive surgery. Everything was monitored from this point and I don’t think it ever truly went away.

“Nat was very stoic – she never shared much of her diagnosis with me and her family – I think she was protecting us all.

“Ten years later, the cancer recurred and it had metastasized. Hospiscare became involved in the last few months of Nat’s life and in those final weeks, they provided unparalleled support and care, not just to Natalie, but to us as a family. They were there whenever we needed them. Now it’s our turn to give back.”

A woman with red hair smiling at the camera

Natalie Haworth

To pay tribute to Natalie and raise vital funds for our local hospice, Simon and five friends will take on a Yomp – Royal Marines slang for a long-distance march carrying full kit. Philip Valarino, a member of ‘Team Yompers’, explains: “Our Yomp is based on the Royal Marines Commando final assessment. We’ll be running and speed marching a 30-mile route over rugged terrain from Okehampton to Ivybridge on Saturday 18 May. The Marine recruits have 8 hours to complete the assessment and we’ve given ourselves an extra 30 minutes due to our age!”

Simon continues, “My friend Will Jerrold is a Royal Marines Commando and he will be leading our group. As civilians, the Yomp will be very challenging for us and this is important to me to pay tribute to everything Nat went through. This is my nod to her to recognise her strength and determination.

“Everybody has been training hard – we’ve done a few practice Yomps together on Dartmoor as well as some individual training wearing weighted vests to prepare for the load we’ll be carrying. I’ve jogged 370km since the start of 2024 so I hope I’ll be prepared for the challenge of the day!

“I chose Dartmoor for the Yomp as it was a special place for Nat – she was Devon born and bred and loved being out on the moors. It’s where she was happiest. We’re aiming to complete our Yomp in 8.5 hours – I think it’s the quickest we can manage as we’re all a bit older and our knees are going! The timing is important to me as a reminder that the presence of our loved ones is a time-limited and precious gift.”

A woman and man smiling at the camera sat at a picnic table

Natalie and Simon

Timing also plays a key part to the Yompers’ fundraising after Hospiscare announced that it was facing an unprecedented £2.5 million funding deficit and was forced to make cuts to its services at the beginning of April.

Philip adds, “We are six old blokes trying to do something about it. We’re aiming to raise £30,000, which equates to £1,000 per mile. If we can make our target, we’ll have raised just over 1% of the funding gap and if 99 other groups do the same, we’ll close that gap!”

Four men on Dartmoor looking at the camera

Four members of ‘Team Yompers’ in training on Dartmoor. From L to R: Phil Valarino, Will Jerrold, Simon Haworth and Jamie Webb

Simon concludes, “Our fundraising will be just a fraction of what Hospiscare needs. We really hope that we can inspire others to do as much as they can to support the hospice so they can continue delivering much-needed care to others like Natalie.”

To make a donation to ‘Team Yompers’ and support the vital work of our hospice, please click here.