At Mates in Mind, we couldn't appreciate those who fundraise for us more. Their efforts help raise awareness of our mission as well as raise much-needed funds to continue the important work we do.
Anne Kemp OBE began walking the Pennine way (270 miles) after being motivated by a diagnosis of CLL (Chronic lymphocytic leukemia) in March 2020. After stopping four days into the walk due to the lockdown, she managed to finish the remainder of the walk that August, raising an incredible £8600 for several charities including Mates in Mind.
Now on her "walk back to normality" she is walking along the South West Coastal which is the equivalent ascent/descent of four Mount Everests.
"I first became aware of Mates in Mind through various construction award events, but became more focused on what the charity does given the emphasis that Atkins gives to mental health" Anne says. "Over the past few years, as an industry and as a company it is amazing to see how the stigma around mental health is now being tackled far more boldly. Having lost what we all thought was a jovial and carefree colleague through an unexpected suicide, and then last summer, a close relative - the relevance and importance of Mates in Mind to me personally left no doubt that this is a charity I wanted to support.
There’s also my own experience in tackling the diagnosis of, and then living with CLL - especially through the pandemic and shielding. I can’t deny this has not had an impact on me. If it wasn’t for the empathy, support and respect given to me by Atkins, by my colleagues, and by my friends and my family, this would have been a much tougher journey for me.
I’ve come to realise that calling this walk “walking back to normality” is important to me symbolically. During the pandemic I have to admit I have become more and more a hermit - bringing to the fore my introvert nature. Its made me reflect how much our society is geared towards a more extrovert existence, and what new normal I’d really like to return to. But this walk is allowing me to come out into the world, interact and talk with people and experiment with my comfort levels. I have to confess to mild panic attacks if there are too many people within an enclosed space - and I’m learning what I can deal with, what I want to deal with, and how to cope. Going forward, it will be all about evaluating risks - and in this I am no different to many others I’m sure.
There have been times on the walk when I’ve felt bone-tired and my body has been wondering what on earth I am doing to it! In general the backpack just feels a part of me, but I certainly feel it when first picking it up, and when I am getting tired! It’s my feet which ache the most, with so far, no blisters and my knees surviving remarkably well. But of course I’ve still got 100 miles to go so plenty could happen yet! And I’ve a bunion which is really starting to protest now. But the last few days has been more a battle of willpower. I have to admit if I wasn’t fundraising I’d have been close to giving up. The exhaustion, the effort was really getting to me. But it’s the little things that help - a smile and hello; the sun emerging from the clouds; a bird singing in the silence. This time is so precious - i mustn’t wish it away!
I enjoy the solitude - there is so much to see. I can take the walk at my own pace, take loads of photos, watch the birds, and look at the huge variety of flora. Simply be. Simply stand and stare".