When Sophie Waiting’s sister in law, Victoria Waiting was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme grade four brain tumour in 2016, neither she nor the rest of family could believe how quickly the condition would develop and sadly take their beloved ‘Vic’. Struggling to cope with looking after her, the family reached out to Pendleside Hospice who supported both Vic and her family and friends throughout her final days. Sadly, Vic passed away just three months after her first seizure. Now, Sophie has created a 40-mile, love heart walk which she hopes will raise thousands of pounds for Pendleside Hospice.
“I wanted to design something because we didn’t have chance to organise much or talk to her about her wishes.” Sophie explains, “we didn’t want her to go unremembered as she was amazing. A general wonder woman and superstar. We were all, and are still devastated. I designed the walk in the shape of a love heart in her memory to raise funds for Pendleside Hospice. I want her to be remembered while thanking the hospice. It’s about taking time out to reflect on the enormity or losing someone you love.”
Vic, was 44 when she died, leaving behind husband Stewart and their two children, James and Alex. She was a well-known local business woman who ran Waitings, a civil engineering firm. She was also a keen equestrian and owned a number of horses. She also had what Sophie can only describe as incredible values.
“Work kind of consumed her and I always used to say sell it as it was so stressful but she always felt that she was paying the mortgages of 70 men.” Sophie smiles, “About three years before she died, Vic’s own sister-in-law died of breast cancer so she bought a massive pink digger for her fleet which continues to raise money for charities everywhere it goes. She was a top woman. It’s hard to process that she’s gone but I wanted to do something to keep her memory alive.”
“I love walking, I always have. It’s really good for your soul when you’re grieving or stressed. I’m always on MapMyWalk and if you GPS it, the walk is in the shape of a love heart. I want it to be in Vic’s memory but also for anyone to be able to put their name to it. It takes in the most beautiful countryside and by the time you finish the love heart, you’re partly healed.”
But how on Earth did Sophie manage to create a walk in the shape of a love heart?
“I drew a rough heart on a massive map made of about ten different ones stuck together. I then had to find the footpaths that went with it. Originally, I wanted to write Vic Sophie explains, “but that would have been just for her, and Vic was for everybody so now anybody can do it under her umbrella.”
Sophie and her family and friends have done the walk twice and she admits it attracts a lot of attention – but she puts it down to the brilliance of the hospice and the way it has touched so many people.
“They come up and tell you their stories about their dealings with the hospice and how they’ve been touched with it,” Sophie smiles, “when Vic went in to the hospice we were struggling.
The hospital had sent her home with about 20 different medicines and we couldn’t cope. The tumour was growing so fast and on day one she couldn’t move her arm, then day two she couldn’t move her leg, it was crushing her.”
In desperation, the family went to the hospice in the hope of sorting out her medication and helping with Vic’s panic attacks. Sophie wrote a referral and the very next day Vic was admitted to the hospice.
“They kept her safe until she died seven weeks later. It was devastating.” Sophie sighs, “but through the entire nightmare, the horrible and evil cancer, that place stands out.
It’s celebrating the great Northern countryside and is part Yorkshire and part Lancashire!
“When Vic was going for radiotherapy they would do her hair so she felt beautiful. It’s the little touches.”
The hospice allowed the Waiting family to make the most of Vic’s final days, grieve and relax and now Sophie is determined to raise as much money as she can for them.
“They’re doing up the rooms to offer patients easy accessibility into the grounds.” Each room costs £6,000, so far Sophie has raised over £14,000! She’s hoping the walk will eventually raise over £100,000 no matter how long that takes, even if it takes ten years. “Everyone knows different people who will sponsor them, so you never know and I’m feeling lucky…”
“Anybody can do it. We do it in two days, but you can do it in little sections over a few days if you want to. There’s also an optional stop at the hospice as it’s touched so many people.”
As well as getting everyone involved, Sophie has also ensured the walk celebrates everything northern and takes in some of the best stopperies and eateries Lancashire and Yorkshire have to offer!
“Along the way you can celebrate the diversity of everything northern. There are stopperies like The Tempest Arms and The Assheton Arms. The walk also goes through towns such as Colne so there are resources where you can get your dinner en route or stop at pubs. It’s celebrating the great Northern countryside covering Yorkshire and Lancashire!”
Sophie has created packs for the walk which include a T-shirt and a map and for a small registration fee of £10; anyone can pick up the pack and complete the walk. If you want to help Sophie on her way to her target, visit loveheartwalk.com to register your interest for a pack including a map and T-shirt.