A brother and sister are taking on a ‘Big Year’ of spectacular endurance challenges in memory of their mum, who passed away from leukaemia.
Carolyn Berry was treated by one of Cure Leukaemia’s founders Professor Charlie Craddock CBE at the Centre for Clinical Haematology at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, but passed away last year at the age of 66, having first been diagnosed six-and-a-half years ago.
Andrew Berry and Vicky Newhouse have now decided to take on a year of exercise-based challenges both in memory of their Mum but also to help Cure Leukaemia fund nurses and clinical trials to help leukaemia patients in the future.
Entitled ‘Touch of Turquoise’ in memory of their Mum’s favourite colour, the list of challenges comprises the Great North Swim, Race to the King (86km ultramarathon), Race to the Stones (100km ultramarathon), Trearddur Bay Swimming sports sea swim, Sandman Triathlon and RNLI Portsmouth 10k.
They are also supported by their families with Vicky’s eight-year-old daughter Charlotte undergoing a drastic haircut and Andrew’s eight-year-old daughter Annabelle pledging to climb Snowdon.
Andrew, a chartered surveyor for Cushman and Wakefield in Birmingham who is pleased to be supporting a charity also based in the City
“It all started with my wife’s cousin, who was preparing to swim the channel, coming to the sailing club in North Wales to watch a long distance swimming race.
“We started chatting about the Great North Swim, then went on to other things like 10k races and Ultra Marathons, and before we knew it we had lined up all these different challenges – in for a penny, in for a pound!
“All the events have significance to Mum – she loved going swimming before she became ill, the walking as she loved her dog walks and the triathlon is in one of her favourite spots in North Wales.
“She also spent a lot of time in Portsmouth with Vicky, hence the RNLI race as well.
“We are doing this for Mum but also for the survivors as well, to raise money for Cure Leukaemia to help people like Mum in the future.”
Vicky works for the UK’s Air Traffic Control provider NATS, based just outside Southampton, but lives in Swanmore bordering the South Downs National Park, which has proved an ideal location for training walks.
“Grief is the most personal experience and for me, after losing Mum, my grief has manifested into a great sense of pride in what she achieved.
“She didn’t want cancer – who does – but she underwent gruelling treatment and in the majority never let her illness define her.
“She did so well to conquer setback after setback, always with the aim to beat her disease.
“She always said she was proud of Andrew and I, and I know she would be so proud of what we’re doing in supporting other patients and families going through their own cancer battles.
“Mum was so grateful to all the nurses & doctors who worked in the haematology ward and made it her mission to bake a cake every time she came in for treatment – I think at some stage there was a request list in place!
“In 2016, I completed a triathlon and raised money for Cure Leukaemia, so for me, this is building on that with bigger and better challenges.
“I don’t know what I’m more worried about – 100km of walking or two solid days and one night of my brother’s company, with his terrible jokes and utter gibberish that he talks!”
Gibberish or otherwise, Andrew admits he is in for a quite a tough challenge but has vowed to make it to the finish line in all the challenges.
“Mum would probably have called us lunatics for taking this on, and she would have been right.
“But she was full of fire and full of life and also had a determined streak which she passed on to both of us, so while we won’t break any records with these events, we will definitely get to the finish and all the memories of her will help us get over the finish line.”
- To support Andrew and Vicky, visit their fundraising page here
- To join Andrew and Vicky for Race to the King and/or Race to the Stones events email: firstname.lastname@example.org