Intrepid pair went to the edge of the Earth for hospice

Have your say

It was certainly more grand than your average sponsored walk.

A 34-strong group spent five days on an 80km trek through the Grand Canyon in Arizona raising an incredible £160,000 for an Edinburgh hospice.

Among the group walking for the Marie Curie Hospice in Fairmilehead was mother and daughter team Charlene and Andrena Feeney from Balerno. They took part in memory of Charlene’s grandmother, Irene Feeney, who was cared for at the hospice when she was terminally ill with lung cancer.

Ms Feeney, 22, said the challenge had been not only to keep up with the physical demands of the trek, but also to meet the minimum fundraising target of £3000 each: “I’d never done anything like this before. I felt quite fit because I’d run a lot of marathons, but it was a totally different level of fitness.

“I’d signed up for it first and then I talked mum into it. She was up for it, but we had the fear that trying to raise £6000 rather than £3000 would be difficult, because we’d have the same family and friends.”

Nonetheless, the pair beat their target, raising £7000 between them with events including a fancy dress pub crawl, which made £1300, along with bag-packing sessions at supermarkets, and her father Ian washing cars during his lunch breaks.

The group trekked down into the bottom of the Canyon on the first day of the expedition, and then set up camp, going on a different hike each day.

Ms Feeney, a student, said it had been an incredible experience: “It was just amazing. The trek itself was just totally overwhelming. It sounds really cheesy to say we’ve come back different people, but I think we really have, it was amazing how so many people who didn’t know each other at the start could get on so well.”

Mrs Feeney, 51, said she had been delighted to share the challenge with her daughter, and added: “It was a great experience. I couldn’t believe that I was actually there in the middle of the Canyon, it was so vast and impressive. It was such a fantastic group, working as a team and being there for each other.”

Their decision to take part was sparked by the experiences of Ms Feeney’s grandmother, who was cared for at the hospice after spells in the Western General and ERI.

Ms Feeney, who celebrated her 16th birthday in the hospice with her grandmother, said the hospice had made the world of difference to the whole family: “It’s so much more personalised, and you do just feel a bit happier going to visit in that environment. The nurses are so much friendlier – they’ve got more time for the patient.

“It made a huge difference for her to go into the hospice instead of hospital. You don’t feel so much of a prisoner, it’s more human.”

Fiona Bushby, Marie Curie community fundraising manager, said: “The Grand Canyon challenge has raised a substantial amount of money for the Edinburgh Hospice, and donations are still coming in.

“We are hugely grateful to each participant for taking part and raising funds to ensure we can continue to provide free expert care and the best possible quality of life, for people with cancer and other life limiting illnesses.”