Two sisters have cycled and walked 300 miles between them to raise money for The Walton Centre Charity as part of the virtual Hope Mountain Hike challenge.

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has meant that The Walton Centre has been unable to hold the annual Hope Mountain Hike event which raises vital funds for the Home from Home relatives’ accommodation. Instead, supporters were asked to do their own, virtual, ‘My Hope Mountain Hike’ challenge for the month of April.

Julia Vernon and Rachel Rochford stepped up to the challenge and more than met it with their epic efforts over the last month.

They have raised over £1,000 in memory of their dad, David, who passed away at The Walton Centre in 2016 after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

Julia said she wasn’t sure her sister Rachel had taken her seriously when she mentioned the challenge!

“People started to donate and so we thought we better get our skates on and start racking up the miles. My only other cycling has been with the children but I’ve really enjoyed it and I’ve been using my Dad’s old mountain bike which has made every mile especially poignant.

“Both Rachel and I used the Home from Home accommodation when Dad was in the critical care unit there in the weeks before his death. Being so near to him meant everything to us. Even though we live just down the motorway from the hospital, his situation was changing so much from minute to minute that it was impossible to think of going home and wasting time driving back to the hospital if we needed to be with him in an instant. Nothing else mattered in the world other than being close to Dad, and the Home from Home accommodation meant that we could get some rest knowing if things changed we were only across a car park rather than half an hour's drive away.

“We also met people whose relatives had been brought to the critical care unit at the hospital from other parts of the country. The Home from Home accommodation was a lifeline for them and took away the stress of having to find their own accommodation whilst they had to deal with the pain of having to see their loved ones in such a desperate situation.

“It costs £20 to provide a one night stay at the Home from Home accommodation for a family of someone receiving critical care at The Walton Centre so to be able to raise this money to benefit other families who could be going through what we went through is incredibly special to both of us, and a wonderful tribute to Dad.”