A Blackpool woman walked more than 60 miles in less than a week in memory of her Godfather and raised vital funds for local hospice care.
Nadia Ardern, 27, put a twist on a 10km virtual fundraising challenge and decided to walk 10 miles every day for six days to represent each day Steve Weir was in Trinity Hospice.
Nadia, who says she usually doesn’t do any exercise, was out in 40mph winds some days but achieved a total of 66 miles and raised more than £625 for the hospice.
“The way I see it, it’s like £100 for each day he was there, so it’s my way of paying back for the amazing care he received at Trinity.”
Steve, who would have turned 59 in February, died at the hospice in October, 14 years after he was diagnosed with the muscle-wasting condition Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
“Steve was more than my Godfather, he was like a dad to me. His death still feels so fresh and raw, but I want to keep on doing what I can for Trinity – not only is it such an amazing place that took such great care of him, it’s my way of keeping him still with me now.
“Some of the walks I did were in terrible conditions, but I could feel him with me all the time. I knew he was looking down on me and laughing at me blowing away on the prom!”
Nadia said Steve, who worked in pathology at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, had been a bodybuilder in his younger years and had always looked after his body well, which meant it took longer for the condition to break down his muscles.
“Gradually, bit by bit, Steve lost his mobility.
“Until he deteriorated to the point where eating and drinking became just too much for him. After all, these were muscles that were just becoming far too weak. Steve had literally become paralysed from the neck down.
“The hard part was when Steve’s voice became very soft and quiet, and sometimes I would finish his words for him as he couldn’t get them out any more.
“It was tough, but he never moaned about his condition.
“In summer last year, the doctors started to treat him for an infection, but we could tell that he was giving up. It was his time. His heart was the last thing to go, but he put up a good fight right to the end.”
Despite COVID, the hospice’s visiting rules meant Nadia was able to see Steve while he was in Trinity.
“I didn’t realise Trinity was even here until this happened to Steve.
“They do so much there; it’s a real reality check, and it’s not until you have to use it that you realise how truly special that place is. I’m over the moon to have raised so much for them.”
As well as sponsorship for her walk, Nadia set up an online fundraising page when Steve died so that his friends and family could make donations to Trinity in lieu of flowers at his funeral. A total of £2,325 has been raised so far in his memory.
“They say the best are taken too soon, and Steve was definitely the best man. I will continue to raise money for the hospice and will never stop trying to make him proud.”