For the past four years, one Darwen resident has been completing a mammoth challenge to raise money for worthy causes.
Every year during Lent, Shona Davis walks up and down Darwen Tower to raise money for various charities close to her heart. Standing proudly at 1225ft and 86 ft tall, the landmark stands proudly above the area and is a popular walk for a lot of keen hikers and dog walkers alike.
For Shona, the walk is much more meaningful than just another walk to enjoy on a sunny day, as it’s become a way for her to raise money for worthwhile causes. This time around, the 51-year-old teacher decided to do the walk to raise money for The Christie in Manchester – an NHS Foundation Trust that treats cancer patients using enhanced services, as a thank you to staff for helping her father last year.
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27 years ago, Shona’s dad, Philip Proffitt, was diagnosed with prostate cancer and as it has been “controlled”, he’s been living with the disease for over two decades. He takes medication to basically stop the cancer from spreading, but since it had grown in 2022, he was checked into the Manchester centre for around six months to reduce it.
Shona told LancsLive: “He lost all of his hair and he found it really tough at first, especially with his eating and you know, because you can’t taste things. He was put on pretty heavy painkillers which he really struggled with, but they adjusted those so it was alright.”
She added: “They [The Christie] were really supportive. My dad went through the chemo treatment – every three weeks he had to have it and we would take it in turns to drive him over there.
“It wasn’t stressful for them at all, it was a long way to go but he said the staff were just so friendly and helpful and we got to know a few of his favourites, favourite nurses or favourite doctors. It wasn’t the best thing to be going through, but they just supported him and supported the family and so, I wanted to give back.”
Four years ago, Shona started walking up and down the Tower as something for her to do when her “ex-husband left the family” and chose Lent as the period of time to complete the challenge. Lent is a 40-day period where Christians remember the events leading up to and the death of Jesus Christ. It is usually marked with followers giving up something up, to test their self-discipline.
Rather than giving something up, Shona thought to “do something extra” and raise money for a charity of her choice and liked it so much, she’s done it every year since. Throughout the years, the mum has raised money for a domestic abuse charity and for the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
The first year that Shona undertook the challenge, for a domestic violence charity, she raised £200 and for the BHF, she raised £300. This time round, for The Christie she is looking to raise £500 – with a current total of £324.
“I do a lot of walking anyway, but Darwen tower is one of those walks that I enjoy.” Shona said that the walks during Lent were so enjoyable for herself the first time she did it, that every year after she wanted to do it again, but thought she’d have the “charity spin” as an extra motivator.
“It can get a bit boring, but you know, I wouldn’t want to do it every day and all of the time,” she added. You just have to do different routes to go up there.
“My dog, Pepper, she always comes with me although sometimes she comes back and is like ‘we’re going up there again?'” Throughout the 40-day challenge, Shona did not complete the walk on Tuesdays as she was cleaning for her mum and dad and missed other days for events such as her daughter’s birthday.
Instead, she would make up for the lost days by doing a double walk on other days, so if she missed a Tuesday, she was often walking up and down twice on the Wednesday. She continued: “It was rain or shine or even floods.
“There was one night where it was literally dark, because I teach full-time so I’d go after work during the week and there was dark nights and I’d be sort of, shin deep in water.”
Although she has successfully completed the challenge, you can still donate to Shona’s JustGiving page, with the money raised going straight to The Christie.
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