Family in 94-mile walk in memory of Lee

Rob and Rosie Dunford are taking on a 94-mile walk for charity ANL-160223-155905001

Rob and Rosie Dunford are taking on a 94-mile walk for charity ANL-160223-155905001

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Ten years after the death of Sudbury man Lee Dunford from blood cancer, his parents are taking on a mammoth 94-mile walk to raise money for charity.

Since 2006 Lee’s family and friends have raised around £70,000, including funds from the hugely successful LeeStock Music Festival at Melford Hall.

Much of this money has been donated to the Willow Foundation which supported Lee and his family when he was being treated for his condition, giving him a dream day out to record a record with his band.

The couple from Hawkins Road in Sudbury, will be supported by many of Lee’s friends for much of the walk.

As well as the Willow Foundation they will also be supporting Bloodwise, which carries out research into blood cancer.

“It’s 10 years since we lost Lee so I decided I needed to do something that pushed me outside my comfort zone,” said Rosie Dunford, Lee’s mother.

Coming up with the idea of a walk, she added: “To make it worthwhile it had to be quite a challenge.”

A challenge it certainly will be, the 94-mile route taking them along Peddars Way and the Norfolk Coastal Path, to be completed in just five days.

Mrs Dunford will take on the walk with husband Rob, 57. The pair will set off alone on Tuesday, March 15, before being joined by Lee’s friend up until the Saturday.

The couple’s grandchildren will then join them for the final five miles, before a celebratory meal on March 19, the anniversary of Lee’s death and Mrs Dunford’s 55th birthday.

Lee’s friends being involved was always important to the family.

It is his friends who have led the way with the LeeStock Music Festival, which will be headlined this year by The Feeling and supported by the Hoosiers.

A massive music fan, the LeeStock festival was a fitting tribute to Lee.

This year is the festival’s ninth outing, but there was also a send off concert for Lee and his band in 2006.

Mrs Dunford said she never expected to see the concert still going and growing 10 years on, adding she would like to see it go on for many more years.

Already looking forward to this year’s line-up, she is busy training hard for her own fundraiser though.

With one of the days involving an 8.5-hour non-stop walk, it is important the couple are ready for what lies ahead.

Zest Gym in Sudbury has provided them with six months free membership to train, with regular walks in the evenings and weekends for the past couple of months to ensure they are ready for what lies ahead.

“It’s no mean feat as we are both over 50,” said Mrs Dunford. “I’m excited. I just can’t wait for it to get here now.

“I’m fed up with training and having to get up early.”

Her only worries are not being able to complete the challenge and the weather.

“I think Lee’s friends coming will lift our spirits near the end,” she added.

“Just as long as it’s not pouring down with rain each day.”

The couple are readying themselves with a stash of sweets and foot cream, their biggest fear being a walk-ending injury.

Mrs Dunford will also be writing a blog and uploading photos during the challenge, hoping as many people as possible will donate to support the two charities.

“I felt it was necessary to start raising some more money for a cure,” said Mrs Dunford.

“If it saves somebody from what Rob and I had to go though then that’s very good.

“Lee benefitted from the Willow Foundation when he was poorly.

“It made such a difference to have everything organised, and for him to have such a fantastic time with family and friends. They do such a fantastic job.”

You can sponsor the couple by visiting www.justgiving.com/R-Dunford.

Money from the online fundraising page will go to the Willow Foundation while other proceeds will go to Bloodwise.