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Margaret (81) takes on the 220-mile Hardy Way trail she founded 20 years ago

12 April 2018

Margaret Marande, 81, from Fontmell Magna in Dorset, will be walking the 220-mile ‘Hardy Way’ in Dorset – the long distance path she founded 20 years ago – to raise funds for PCRF.

The fundraiser is a tribute to her late partner Harry, who died of pancreatic cancer in August 2017 and Margaret will split the money she raises between Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, the Westminster Memorial Hospital in Shaftesbury and Thomas Hardy’s Birthplace Visitor Centre.

l-r Margaret Marande with daughter Liz and partner, Harry

Says Margaret: “Cancer struck Harry three times over the years. Twice he fought it and gained twenty-five years. But the third attack was vicious.  Pancreatic.  He was brave and looked to a future despite the odds, but this cancer was too aggressive.   The survival statistics for pancreatic cancer are grim – it’s the most lethal cancer of all. He was diagnosed in December 2016, he died in August 2017 and it wasn’t quality time.  Money is needed for research to beat this killer and I want to help.”

Margaret and Harry were always keen walkers, completing iconic walks both in the UK and abroad, including the Coast to Coast, Offa’s Dyke Path on the Welsh border and Queen Charlotte’s Track on the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand. “Each new adventure I suggested was met with Harry’s trademark exclamation of mock horror ‘Holy s**t Lieutenant!’ but he loved walking as much as I did,” says Margaret.

In 1998, Margaret – formerly an Education Officer in the prison service and an author with a deep love of Thomas Hardy’s work - founded a long distance path of some 220 miles through the stunning scenery of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex. ‘The Hardy Way’ route starts at his birthplace near Dorchester, journeys through some of the most unspoilt parts of Dorset, from the World Heritage Jurassic coast then inland to the Cranborne Chase on the Wiltshire border, taking in places that Hardy describes in his novels and poems under fictitious names.  The walk finishes in the tiny churchyard of St Michael at Stinsford, where Hardy’s heart is buried.

Margaret MarandeMargaret will attempt her walk on consecutive days – no mean feat for someone half her age. At 81 years old “with dodgy knees and feet susceptible to blisters” the physical challenge is immense. She will set off on the morning of 18 April from Hardy’s Birthplace Visitor Centre at Higher Bockhampton. 

Among those waving her off will be her family and  friends, representatives from the three charities involved and  film director and screenwriter,  Lord Julian Fellowes – creator of  Downton Abbey – and his wife Lady Fellowes.  On her walk, Margaret will be accompanied by friends, family, nurses from the hospital that cared for Harry, and other Hardy Way walkers and says that the walk “will take as long as it takes.”

Family friend, author Jilly Cooper CBE, sent her love and support, saying:  “Margaret spent a hideous and heartbreaking year watching her beloved partner finally succumb to the deadly advance of pancreatic cancer. Now she is attempting this amazing challenge to raise funds for research crucially needed to combat this terrible disease. Every mile she walks will be hugely worthwhile if it can help achieve this objective.  Best of luck, brave Margaret.”

Maggie Blanks, PCRF's CEO said: “The scale and ambition of Margaret’s challenge in memory of Harry is truly inspirational, and we’re enormously grateful for her support. The money raised will enable us to fund more cutting edge research to help deliver new ways to diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer.”

If you can help Margaret’s fundraising, please go to:

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