On the 14th February 2016, Natalia Spencer set off on her almost-year-long walk around Britain’s coastline, starting and ending at Durdle Door in Dorset. This location is significant – it was the last seaside location Natalia visited with her daughter, Elizabeth.
After becoming suddenly ill at home with a common virus, it was discovered that 5-year-old Elizabeth’s illness had triggered an auto immune condition known as Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). This meant Elizabeth’s body went into septic shock, shutting down her major organs and the blood supply to her limbs and extremities. You can find out more about the rare condition here. Elizabeth sadly passed away after a brave 18-day fight for her life in the intensive care unit at Bristol University Children’s Hospital.
Natalia wanted to focus her energy in a positive direction, as well as helping others and honouring the memory of her daughter. She decided to embark on a challenging task – a 6,000-mile walk around Britain’s coastline within just a year to raise money for Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal at the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity. The appeal is for new, life-saving equipment for Bristol Children’s Hospital. The idea of the coastline walk came from Elizabeth’s love of the seaside.
"It was an overwhelming, surreal, physically challenging, incredible, beautiful, dangerous and always emotional journey."
It was an honour for ViewRanger to assist Natalia in tracking her walk to allow people to follow her journey using our Buddy Beacon system, as well as providing the maps for her route.
“A technical supporter who I used on a daily basis and even sometimes trusted with my life is the ViewRanger map application,” said Natalia. “I am so very much grateful to have such a reliable mapping tool and being honest, cannot possibly imagine how I could do the walk without ViewRanger maps.
“You will be really surprised to know that I actually have no sense of direction! So you can imagine, if I managed to walk 6000 miles without being terribly lost, I must have had a very good mapping system!”
On the 7th February 2017, Natalia crossed the finish line! She has raised over £100,000 so far for the appeal and won awards for her fundraising, including The Points of Light Award, given by the Prime Minister, and Endurance Fundraiser of the Year in the JustGiving Awards 2016.
“It was an overwhelming, surreal, physically challenging, incredible, beautiful, dangerous and always emotional journey and it was definitely the best and the most meaningful thing that I ever did in my entire life,” said Natalia on finishing her challenge.
“I did it all for my wonderful little girl Elizabeth and for all these precious children and their families who will benefit from Elizabeth's Footprint fundraising.”