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Posted: April 30 2024

Ron’s March – April Walks

After a quiet couple of winter months, our fundraising walks picked up pace again in March. Our aim, as ever, is to increase awareness of this life-threatening disease, at the same time as raising money for The Bob Willis Fund and Prostate Cancer UK. We do this by taking part in short walks organised by England Cricket Seniors in each county (and Wales) that plays Over 60s/70s Cricket.

Having had to cancel a walk from Slough Cricket Club due to flooding, the first walk of 2024 took place at The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury – the home of Kent County Cricket Club. After a wet start, the rain cleared in time for approximately 50 walkers to enjoy the beautiful sights of Canterbury and around. Unfortunately, a sodden outfield prevented play on the first day of the County Championships where Kent CCC were due to play Somerset so we didn’t get to see any cricket!

The Kent walk was joined by former England Test Match players Rob Key (now Managing Director of England Cricket) and Gladstone Small. We very much appreciated the time that both charming men gave to support our campaign. The big screen at the ground blazed out a thank you to the walkers and highlighted that £33,000 has been raised so far. We were delighted that Sky Sports Cricket filmed this walk and interviewed Rob about England Cricket’s forthcoming summer. The film will be shown on Sky Sports Cricket on Saturday 27th July during the Edgbaston Test Match between England and West Indies. Organiser Gordon Watts and the Kent Over 60s/70s cricketers are to be thanked and praised for their amazing support.

The following Tuesday, Gloucestershire Over 60s/70s arranged their county’s walk – this taking us up to 20 walks so far. We met at The Old Lodge Hotel, Minchinhampton near Stroud. The pub is on the common, in the middle of a golf course, and standing very much on its own. The heavy rain and strong winds reminded people of The Hound of The Baskervilles. A short delay to the start luckily meant that the 30 walkers stayed dry, even if rather wind swept. We were thrilled to be joined by Katie Willis (Bob Willis’ daughter), her mother and her delightful young sons. We’re not sure that they felt a Tuesday morning in the cold and wind was top of their things to do but they did cheer up when they went to collect their 96-year-old great grandmother, who joined us for a lovely lunch in The Old Lodge. Laura Kerby, CEO of Prostate Cancer UK, also braved the weather to join us. Many thanks to John Evans, England Over 70s batsman, who did a brilliant job in organising the walk.

From Gloucestershire, Ron’s March moved onto Edgbaston Cricket Ground, as the guests of Warwickshire CCC. Once again Sky Sports Cricket were filming and interviewed Bob’s widow, Lauren, for a clip to be shown on Blue for Bob Day, at Edgbaston, in July. We were delighted to be joined by broadcasting legends Nick Owen and Jim Rosenthal, along with former Warwickshire and England Test cricketer, Tim Munton. Nick is a former Chairman of Luton Town Football Club and was keen to support Ron, a keen supporter. Nick’s son Andy, Manager of the Warwickshire Indoor Cricket School, welcomed the walkers to Edgbaston before they set off around the lovely Canon Hill Park. We arrived back at the ground to watch the Championship match v Durham CCC. Those who stayed for the cricket were entertained by both Warwickshire’s opening batsmen scoring centuries. The Warwickshire innings was declared on 698 for 3, close to a record total. The campaign is indebted to Warwickshire CCC who provided free tickets and packed lunches. BBC Midlands News also joined our walk and a short clip was shown that evening on their programme. We thank Sky Sports and The BBC for helping us to raise awareness of Prostate Cancer. Gerrard Mossart (coach at Warwickshire CCC) donated kit to be sold in aid of the fund and £200 was raised. We thank him and the staff who sold the kit.

Our next walk was on Saturday 20th April when the sun shone and blue sky welcomed 20 walkers for the Devon Seniors’ walk from South Devon CC in Newton Abbot to Bovey Tracey CC. We all enjoyed a very lovely walk through the Devon countryside, followed by a lunch of hot pasties and Bovey Tracey’s first match of the season against Blackheath CC from Kent. Ron was delighted to chat with the Blackheath players and we are so grateful that they donated to our cause – they were a credit to their club. Andy Rose organised a great day and the donations received have been extremely generous. Ron met up with a former Bucks player, Neville Prichard and his wife, who now live in Devon. More amazingly, Ron got chatting to a Devon cricketer who it transpired had worked in the same building as Ron more than 50 years ago – what a small world!

Ron and Pat drove back from Devon to join 50 Surrey Over 60s/70s for their second walk to support Ron’s March. Bill Early, aided by Colin Sharp and Len Ozane, organised a lovely walk around the Surrey countryside and then we enjoyed their hospitality and delicious lunch at the lovely Horsley and Send Cricket Club. Katie Willis joined the walk, as did Jacob Holroyd from Prostate Cancer UK. All of the walkers greatly appreciate the support of The Bob Willis Fund and Prostate Cancer UK on our walks.

   

Due to the fantastic support, we have received from so many people so far, our fundraising total reached over £40,000 by the end of April 2024. An amount beyond our wildest dreams and a sum that will help make a huge difference to Prostate Cancer research.

We have more walks planned in the coming months and will continue to raise awareness of prostate cancer and the need for men to be tested. On Friday 3rd May, we walk with Middlesex Over 60s/70s along the Regents Canal to Lords Cricket Ground – the home of cricket. Should anyone wish to join us on this, or any other walks, do get in touch!

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