A desire to remember a “beautiful young lady” and raise money for essential research has prompted two Milford Haven women to walk the entire Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, starting today (Sunday).
Fifty-four-year-old Alison James, from Steynton, and her friend Lyn Hambridge, from Sardis, will attempt to walk all 186 miles of the coast path to raise money in memory of Alison’s late sister Helen.
Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 1997, Helen’s health deteriorated rapidly. She died in 2001, aged just 36, leaving two young children.
Despite her illness, Alison said her sister maintained her upbeat, gracious nature, even in hospital.
“She was always interested in how her family and other patients were doing,” said Alison.
“That was the incredible person she was.”
“She was a beautiful young lady. We would laugh a lot together – she was my best friend,” she added.
“She was such a family-orientated person and that was taken away from her.”
Inspired by Helen, Alison and Lyn have already raised more than £5,000 in sponsorship, which will be donated to the MS Society to fund research into new treatments.
The pair will set off from St Dogmaels on Sunday, May 18, and hope to cross the finish line in Amroth on Monday, June 2.
Physically, Alison says her biggest fear is the hilly terrain, and the cumulative effect of walking up to 16 miles every day.
“I’ve never done anything like this before in my life, but it wouldn’t be a challenge if it was easy,” she said.
“There’s no room for failure, I’m not going to give up – my sister didn’t and I won’t either.”
Spurred on by the beautiful coastline, Alison said she sees the fundraising walk as an opportunity to “make a difference and pass on a legacy to Helen’s children”.
“What will sustain me is actually thinking of Helen, that’s what’s going to get me through.
“Helen would be laughing now; she’d never imagine me doing this!”
Alison said she believes the trip will also be a chance to “make the most of the simple things in life”.
“Life is so frenetic, we forget what’s important – our links to family and nature – and knowing that time is precious.
“I’ll be carrying Helen with me along the way.”
To add to the pair’s total, visit justgiving.com/Alison-James2