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13 miles in under eight hours – a successful trek for Team Sunshine raising almost £4,000! And what a welcome for our new head of charity…

Hi Sunshine News Readers,

Regular readers will know that we spent last Friday walking along Hadrian’s Wall for this year’s Sunshine Trek – and what a day it was! We were led by the fantastic team at Challenge Northumberland who looked after us all day. We’d like to thank Nev Duncan and his team for their wonderful support on the day and in the run-up to the trek, as well as to the park rangers and the team at Mountain Rescue for providing additional support.

We are delighted to say that the trek raised almost £4,000, which is going to have such a positive impact on the daily lives of the children who are waiting on specialist and adapted equipment, especially following a particularly large equipment round, which came to a total of £45,093. This will make a small yet crucial dent in our waiting list, meaning that local children living with disabilities, additional needs and terminal illness are united with their equipment as quickly as possible.


Our trek was an extra special day as it was also an opportunity to welcome our new Head of Charity, David Wilson, who joins us from another local charity, Daft as a Brush. Despite it only being his second day, David decided to join us for the 13-mile trek where he could meet some of our supporters face-to-face and really get stuck in. Some may think we’re throwing him in the deep end here, but David has years of experience guiding walks across Hadrian’s Wall so it was like second nature to him!


We look forward to sharing more about our new Head of Charity in the coming weeks, especially as he joins us at an exciting time ahead of our 21st anniversary Sunshine Run. David brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience, and we’ve already got lots of ideas and plans in the works that we can’t wait to share with you all!


Now, on to the trek itself… Our group met at Thirlwall Castle where the trek began at 9am; we’d been keeping our eyes on the weather forecast all week and after non-stop downpour on the Wednesday, we all came prepared to battle the elements of damp, muddy grounds.

Beginning of the trek at Thirlwall Castle


Armed with Team Sunshine t-shirts, blister plasters and plenty of waterproofs, we set off over the main Newcastle to Carlisle train line, past the castle remains and a steady climb brought us out of the valley and onto the fells, where we took in breath-taking views before reaching Walltown Country Park.


The weather at this point was dry if a little muggy, and we marched on to Walltown Crags, keeping close to the wall as we followed its contours of land down to Caw Gap. Here, about five miles in, we were greeted by the team from Challenge Northumberland who provided hot drinks and snacks to keep us going. Luck clearly wasn’t on our side as the moment we sat down for our picnic lunches, the heavens opened for the first time that day, but we didn’t let this dampen(!) our moods!


After a brief downfall, we carried on and took on the steepest, and potentially the hardest part of the trek; our legs were really put to the test as we climbed up the steep steps to Windshield Crags where we reached our highest point of nearly 1,000ft. Despite the drizzly weather and some pretty nasty blisters, our spirits were kept high knowing that we’d made it to the highest point of the trek.

The group at the Highest Point at 1000ft


At 9 miles, we reached The Sill for our second refreshment break and this is when the rain really came hammering down and our waterproofs became essential. Thankfully, some of the trekkers came extra prepared with umbrella hats which certainly lifted everybody’s moods and added some colour to the otherwise grey and gloomy atmosphere.


We then headed east to Steel Rigg, which is the most photographed area of the route as it is home to the recently felled Sycamore Gap, famous for its stunning views and picturesque location that has been used in film sets. The sun finally came out for us for the last few miles and spirits were certainly lifted as the finish line became closer.

The group wearing their umbrella hats and Sycamore Gap


After seeing what is left of the iconic tree, we carried on alongside Crag Lough, before climbing up onto Housesteads Crags. We walked through more significant accents and descents, giving us an insight into the environment the Romans endured almost two thousand years ago, before finishing at Housesteads Roman Fort. We’re so proud of our trekkers for completing the challenge with smiles on their faces throughout, despite some challenges and less-than-ideal weather. From all at Team Sunshine, thank you so much to all who took part, who donated to the campaign, and those who have been inspired to take on their own fundraising challenges for us.

Team sunshine at the end


Feeling motivated? Although we raised some fantastic funds from our trek, we still have a long way to go to meet the growing demand in our community, but the good news is that we have some great events lined up that will take us closer to ticking off all items on our waiting list. Keep an eye on our website, social media and weekly columns as we have lots to announce; you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn - @sunshinefund.


In the meantime, our highly anticipated Sunshine Run 5K is less than three weeks away! Time has flown by and we have lots of runners signed up and raring to go, but there’s still time to join us… Online registration closes next Wednesday (June 5) so if you’d like to be part of a truly special evening, please don’t wait. Head to https://entry.eventsupnorth.co.uk/races/gfctkto register your place and help us #PaintTheTOONYellow, all to raise vital funds for children with complex needs in our region. You can find out more at www.thesunshinefund.org/sunshinerun.


Thanks for reading,


Sophie X

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