CRY Heart of Durham Walk 2021 write-up

Following the restrictions over the last 18 months, we were so pleased to be able to host our 12th annual Durham Walk event back in the heart of the city this year, with an incredible 120 walkers attending. Families and friends who have tragically experienced the sudden death of a young person due to young sudden cardiac death came together to reflect and support one another as they walked through the city in their CRY T-shirts. We are so thankful to everyone who was able to attend, especially as we are aware of what a difficult day it can be for our CRY supporters.

The walk started and finished at our lovely venue, The Durham Amateur Rowing Club, and this year our participants were able to sit outside in their new riverside beer garden before and after.

Weather wise, the day started off with some drizzle and showers, but by the afternoon the sun was shining over Durham, and people stayed and chatted in the warm weather into the early evening.

People started arriving from around 9:30am, checking in and getting ready to walk. We also welcomed 25 walkers that registered on the day which was fantastic.

In the morning, Jeff Morland, who founded the event 12 years ago, along with Steve Percival, who has been key in helping us to hold the walk in Durham throughout the years, were kind enough to speak at the Rowing Club. Jeff spoke about the history of the event, and an emotional moment followed as Steve read out the names of those families and friends attended in memory of.

At 11am, it was time to set off, and the walkers headed along the scenic River Wear towards the town, passing over several of the bridges that are so key to Durham’s character. Our walkers were then met with iconic views of Durham Cathedral and castle as they weaved their way through the cobbled streets, eventually arriving at the Market Place. Here the walkers were able to stop at the CRY awareness stand that was manned by CRY volunteers Kenny and Maralyn Bowen, who kindly spent the whole day handing out well-earned bottles of water to our walkers.

The walkers then passed Durham Cathedral, where some may have chosen to light a candle within the cathedral at this point in the day.

After covering some more ground and seeing some of the city, the walkers began to retrace their steps back towards the Rowing Club along the riverside, with the sun starting to make an appearance!

As the walkers started to return, they were congratulated for their fantastic achievement with a CRY medal and had a very well-deserved sit down in the lovely beer garden. They were greeted by one of our volunteers, Marie Miller, in addition to CRY staff.

Six CRY staff attended the event this year – Lily Burke, Phil Houlton, Cara MacMillan, Alice McDermott, Ben Robinson, and Hannah Walker. It was so important for new staff to meet some of our incredible supporters and families, as well as a chance for returning staff to see families face to face again, following COVID restrictions.

Walkers shared with us that a member of the public stopped them to ask about the event and about CRY, with some even generously offering donations along the way! The walkers’ efforts on the day will have helped with CRY’s aim to raise awareness of young sudden cardiac death and the ways it can hopefully be reduced in the future. We really are so grateful to everyone who was involved in any capacity on the day for this reason.

As the evening started to draw in, families and friends chatted, both amongst themselves and with other walkers. People took group photos, and they were able to order from the Rowing Club’s delicious menu of food and refreshments. There were even some footballs being kicked around!

There was a marquee in which walkers could write a message dedicated to their young person and share their thoughts from the day if they chose to, as well as a virtual message board where walkers could share photos too.

Walkers filled in some much-appreciated feedback forms, before setting off on their journeys home. By around 4:30pm, the event was wrapped up for another year! We are so thankful to everyone that came, and CRY hopes to be back in Durham next Autumn, for another special day. This year, participants were walking and volunteering in memory of Meghan Adams; Jack Balfour; Ian Bowen; Andrew Callender; Tom Day; Matthew Harris; Dean Henderson; Damien Jewell; Eleanor Rose Keeler; Alan Lumley; Stephanie McLean; Levon Morland; Kevin Paterson; Charlotte Richardson; Mike Scott; Robert Daniel Smith; Claire Taylor; and David White.

We of course can’t forget the brilliant 12 people who participated in the ‘My Walk for CRY’, from their local areas. We hope the walk went well for you all, thank you so much for your support and commitment. My Walk for CRY was walked this year in memory of Andrew Dovey; Ashley Goodwin; Alan Lumley; Richard Ponting; Alexandra Reid; and Christopher Rushton.

Thank yous:

We wanted to say a huge thank you to Doug Moody, a local photographer who has helped in Durham for many years. He captured some brilliant moments throughout the day, including shots of Jeff and Steve making their wonderful speeches, as well as families tucking into ice creams on route!

We are also very grateful to the following companies and organisations for their support of this event:

  • Adam Barrett and Sarah, our brilliant first aiders from Resq Support
  • Colin Wilkes, Jill Wood and Durham Markets Company Ltd for providing CRY with a free awareness stand in The Market Place, Durham.
  • Durham Amateur Rowing Club for providing a great venue at a discount, year after year, and to Mark Bell and John, for making us so welcome and helping out with setting up and packing up. The addition of the beer garden was such a special place for families and friends to spend time on the day.
  • Durham University Cricket Club for allowing us the use of the club’s car park.
  • Durham Safety Advisory Group and Asset Management Team for approving the route.

Finally, we would like to say a massive thank you to our dedicated volunteers and helpers. We really couldn’t run an event like this, so far away from the CRY office, without you: Dick and Carol Ainsley; Maralyn and Kenny Bowen; David (Joe) Crow; Jim Henderson; David Jewell; Marie Miller; Jeff Morland; Marianne Mortimore; and Steve Percival.

Special thanks, once again, must go to Jeff Morland and Steve Percival, the original instigators of the walk, for helping to organise the event and making it all happen each year.

If you would like to be among the first to hear new details and when registration is open for 2022, please fill out the interest form below