It’s your 40th – what do you plan? A big knees up with all your family and friends? A holiday? A combination of the two that involves the infamous Coast to Coast walk with a surprise engagement at the end whilst raising thousands of pounds for charity? Well, the latter is exactly what newly engaged couple Torie Brady and Kerry Ann Walton did!
We’d always wanted to do the Coast to Coast walk.” Kerry explains. “Then just before Christmas we decided to set up a JustGiving page to try and raise some money. The original target was £500, and we’ve now raised over £2,600!” The charity Kerry and Torie chose to raise money for was Crohn’s and Colitis UK – a charity close to their hearts after Torie was diagnosed with Crohn’s at the age of just 25. After first being diagnosed, Torie ended up in hospital for ten weeks having her large bowel removed – a total shock given she thought she was fit and healthy.
Living with Crohn’s
“I was very fit and going to the gym to all of a sudden being admitted to hospital with what I thought was an infection or IBS that ended up being major surgery which involved me being given a temporary ileostomy bag. At 25 it was terrifying and a lot to adjust to.”
Since then, Torie has gone on to have numerous operations but she explains it’s not just the bowel side of things that cause her problems.
“You get things like arthritis and fatigue because it’s an auto-immune disease. You get a lot of pain and associated problems such as nausea. It’s cruel and I find it very frustrating when there are things I want to do and can’t. Sometimes I make myself go out as you feel like you’re letting people down, you might be fine one day and the next in hospital. You never know what is around the corner with it.”
Which makes it all the more impressive that she, along with Kerry, took on the grueling Coast to Coast walk. The 192 mile walk, devised by Alfred Wainwright, starts in St Bees, Cumbria and after taking walkers across moors, bogs and through the Lake District and the heart of Yorkshire, finishes in the iconic Robin Hood’s Bay.
So, how did the ladies find the walk?
“A lot harder than I thought!” Torie laughs, “You see Julia Bradbury looking beautiful and calm and all the rest of it and we were falling about, skidding, falling in bogs, climbing up waterfalls, swearing, crying, everything! It was horrendous but a massive achievement and I’m so glad we’ve done it!”
But while Torie was concentrating on just getting through the walk, Kerry was also determined not to let a huge secret slip – that she was planning to propose in front of all their family and friends at the end!
But, was the sneaking around worth it and did Kerry manage to keep it hush-hush?
“I can’t hold my own water. It was hard the few months before having to sneak around and organise things. I was always washing my car!” Kerry laughs. “In the Lakes we got some really bad weather and I’d wrapped the engagement ring in a pair of leather gloves in a box and the box was battered! Then when we got to the end at Robin Hood’s Bay there were cars full of family and friends driving towards our meeting point and I knew the number plates, so I kept stopping!”
IT’S CRUEL AND I FIND IT VERY FRUSTRATING WHEN THERE ARE THINGS I WANT TO DO AND CAN’T
But Torie, not knowing what was waiting for her at the Bay Hotel AKA Alfred Wainright’s Pub, decided they should stop for a drink at a different pub.
“I had no idea!” Torie chuckles, “I was actually getting a bit wound up the last couple of days. Kerry was just on her phone non-stop – even on the toilet! On our way into Robin Hood’s Bay she was rushing and stressed. We got to the first pub and I said, ‘come on, let’s have a drink, we’re pretty much there now’ and she was very reluctant to stop, and I thought this is odd, maybe she’s knackered!”
Over forty of their family and friends were waiting at the Alfred Wainwright pub that Kerry had hired out especially for the event. When they eventually got down there, Kerry was finally able to let the cat out of the bag.
The big question
“We got down to the Bay and onto the beach and threw a pebble into the sea. Then Kerry’s voice began shaking.” Torie recalls, “She said she had something to ask me. She said ‘look behind you.’”
“There was a banner hanging over the sea wall asking her to marry me and there were over 40 people with Kerry and Torie face masks on! Her Mum had baked a massive cake and when she saw the ring she was in shock. She couldn’t believe it.” Kerry smiles, “It was brilliant. Torie has suffered so much since she was 25.”
“Kerry has been amazing throughout it all though,” smiles Torie. “Not many partners would have stuck by what I’ve had to go through health wise. I’ve been worried she’d feel lumbered with me but her going to all that effort has put me at ease. It was a great way to end the walk. It was such an amazing atmosphere and I still can’t get over it now, it’s mad!”
The pair who had been friends before eventually getting together are now on with planning their wedding next summer. I wondered if they had any more challenges planned? While Kerry tells me they’re probably going to have a quiet wedding, she’s not disclosed their honeymoon plans – could it be a walking honeymoon? “My toe nails are black and I’ve wrecked my feet!” Kerry laughs, “I’d do it again but no, we’re thinking of trying out Route 66, but not walking!”
Well, I’m not sure I can blame them for wanting to hang their walking boots up for a while! Here’s hoping their next adventure is just as spectacular!