A GROUP of walkers from the Fordingbridge area have raised £4,000 with a challenge for a children’s cancer ward - with more still coming in.

Paul Lockyer, Simon Dorrington, Andy Gilbert, Nathan Welch and Keith Kirkcaldy plus Kevin Witt, Fran Mathers, John Barter, Phil Hood and Gwyn Davies walked 34 miles from Durdle Door to Bournemouth Pier, setting off at 5am and reaching their destination 15 hours later.

The event was organised after Mr Lockyer’s nephew Alex was treated in Southampton General Hospital’s Piam Brown Ward, where he fought Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Alex joined the walkers, who were greeted at the end of a gruelling trek with a special balloons and ribbon display by Ringwood-based Balloonarray.co.uk.

The walkers were backed up by Al Lockyer as support vehicle driver, and Alice and Ally Barter, who provided a second vehicle and both walked 24 miles.

Geordie Kirkcaldy, who had fractured his ankle in a practice walk, bravely managed to complete the last 14 miles in considerable pain.

Mr Dorrington said: “By the time Durlston came around blisters and muscle cramps were becoming commonplace between the walkers. A combination of laughter, some questionable music choices and the beautiful scenery kept spirits high.”

When the team headed to Swanage they were met by a chorus of cheers and ten walkers, mainly from Alderholt’s Kingswood Day Nursery, joined them for the last 14 miles.

As they approached the platform at Sandbanks they were cheered by more friends and family and the group swelled to 30.

Mr Dorrington said: “After negotiating some thick sand, Tarmac was reached on the promenade, though now flat it was unforgiving on aching limbs and burst blisters.

“The last four miles with the pier in sight started to seem a little soul destroying with the finish seemingly not getting any closer. Normal strides were replaced by hobbling steps but being so near to the finish there was no chance of us letting down our supporters.”

As the walkers turned the final corner they saw a 50-strong crowd at the finish line.

All who contributed to the walk were thanked with a party at Alderholt Sports and Social Club, where Neil Zebedee performed music, Lisa Donovan provided massages for the walkers and Sarah Warr and Sophie Harrison from Rachey’s Cakes sold cakes in aid of the ward.

Anyone who wishes to donate can do so at justgiving.com/durdledoortobournemouth.