I was doing the nursery pick-up a while ago when Kate, one of the two women who run the nursery (along with four others), asked to have a word with me. She proposed a charity walk to raise funds for my sister, Rachel. For the renovations and equipment that will be required before she can come home. I was touched. I said we’d be really grateful.
My nephew Louie started at Lime Tree nursery when he was about nine months old. When we moved to this village a couple of years ago, Joseph started going there. And then Elodie and Jay were born, and they’d been on the waiting list for months. Louie is at school now, but he still goes to Lime Tree for before and after school clubs. Since my cancer and Rachel’s stroke, the women who run the place and the women who care for the children there have been endlessly supportive. Everyone there takes the time to get to know the families, so that I can phone and say ‘I’m Joe and Elodie’s mum, but I’m calling about Jay’ and I don’t have to explain any further. I like that.
We had a bit of back and forth about the charity walk and then Kate set up the Just Giving page. The plan is for participants to do a seven-mile twilight walk, starting at one of Lime Tree’s two Sileby nurseries and ending at their Loughborough one, taking in the other three nurseries in the group along the way. People have been asked to donate £3 if they want to walk, and to donate and share the page.
The story was picked up by the Loughborough Echo, who put it on their front page, and then the Leicester Mercury. A local charity, The White Horse Wishing Well, got in touch to offer to provide refreshments for the walkers. The original target of £500 was quickly reached and, at the time of writing, the page has raised £1,444. I’m really touched by this because a lot of the names on the donations list are unfamiliar. These are local people who don’t know us but have read Rachel’s story and been moved by it.
The walk is in a couple of weeks, and it’s a busy time for us. It falls between Elodie and Jay’s second birthdays and is a week before the publication of my novel. Mum and I are going to walk while Paul looks after our children and my dad looks after Rachel and Scott’s. Scott is hopefully going to arrange to bring Rachel to the starting point so that all the walkers can meet her. I don’t know when I last walked seven miles. Mum keeps telling me that I’ll need some proper shoes. She’s right, I’m sure.
But my thinking is that I’ll be carried round those seven miles by the generosity of the people who are walking alongside me and the people who’ve donated to the cause. Rachel can’t walk; she’ll never walk again. But I can, and I will. And every step will be for my brave and beautiful sister, who’s been away from home for far too long.