Graeme Simpson, who is a site manager at The Acorns in Walsham-le-Willows in Suffolk, lost his mother, Maureen, at an early age to pancreatic cancer and recently one of his closest friends, Joanna Millington, was nearly taken by the same disease. Pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers: back in the nineties when Graeme’s mother was diagnosed, there was only a 4% chance of recovery. Today, it has risen to just 10%.
Graeme recently returned to his northern roots to undertake a charity walk along Hadrian’s Wall. We caught up with Graeme, who said: “When I was just 24, pancreatic cancer took my Mum. A woman so full of life and love. I am probably yet to meet anyone like her and probably never will. Since then, it has also nearly taken one of my oldest friends. Thankfully, thanks to the fantastic nurses and doctors of the NHS, she is still with us. So, I decided to do what I could and raise money for Pancreatic Cancer UK in memory of my mum and for people like Joanna.”
Graeme, who was born in Hexham, through which Hadrian’s Wall passes, walked the 84 miles (135km) from Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast to Wallsend on the east coast. The five-day trail follows the line of Hadrian’s Wall, along the way passing through some of the most beautiful parts of England – from rolling fields and rugged moorland to the vibrant cities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Carlisle.
He added: “Having not done a lot of walking, except the five miles or so a day I usually walk on-site, I practised hard to prepare myself for this adventure. The walk was amazing. It was harder than I expected but well worth the suffering my feet took. Some of the views across the Northumberland National Park were breathtaking. And, luckily, I was fortunate to have the weather on my side. I would recommend the walk to anyone!”
Graeme added: “Cancer has affected nearly all of us at some point. We all know someone or have had a family member who has suffered from a form of cancer. Just within this last year, it has taken a man that hugely helped and influenced me in my job, and I miss him enormously.”
We caught up with Simon Medler, regional managing director of Lovell in East Anglia, who said: “This is a fantastic cause that Graeme is supporting and the whole team were behind him as he walked from coast to coast. His fundraising efforts have been brilliant for Pancreatic Cancer UK.”
So far, Graeme has had enormous support and encouragement from friends and colleagues, raising nearly £3000 so far.
Graeme’s JustGiving page is at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/graeme-simpson2.