Centenarians walk round park in support of NHS
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A 101-year-old Felixstowe fundraiser who is walking 102 laps of a park before her next birthday in support of the NHS was joined by another centenarian on Thursday.
In April, former nurse Joan Rich set herself the challenge of walking 102 laps of the town’s Allenby Park before she turns 102 in September as a way of thanking health workers on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus.
Her walks have captured the heart of the community and she has raised nearly £21,000 so far for NHS Charities Together.
And, on Joan’s 75th walk of the park, she was joined by a special guest on Thursday in 102-year-old Wynnie Dunger.
Together, the two women have a combined age of 203.
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Joan was born in 1918 - in the middle of the Spanish flu pandemic - and has spent half of her life in Suffolk, including a spell working as a nurse at Felixstowe Hospital from 1964 to 1978.
She also served with the Army in the Second World War and was posted to the Middle East, where she lived near a very different Allenby Park - in Jerusalem.
Joan decided to embark on her walks around the Felixstowe park after the Covid-19 lockdown came into force, with her daughter Diane setting up a JustGiving page ‘Joan’s 102 Walks in the Park’ with a relatively modest goal of raising £1,020.
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But thousands of pounds in donations rapidly poured in - with the current total at £20,913 with more than a quarter of the challenge to go.
Felixstowe residents have supported Joan’s inspirational efforts over the last few months, with many neighbours displaying posters in their windows and an NHS logo being mowed into the grass at the park.
Mark Jepson, mayor of Felixstowe, has also been backing Joan throughout the challenge and was at the park to cheer the two centenarians on their lap.
The money she has raised will pay for projects and medical equipment to support NHS staff, volunteers and patients.
Diane, who has been accompanying Joan on her walks, said her seeing her mother walk with Wynnie was “joyous”.
She said: “Joan is definitely going to meet her target. She might even go further than 102 laps.
“Thank you to everyone who has donated so far. Even if you have given just a small amount, Joan would consider you as a friend.”
Rob Dunger, Wynnie’s son, added: “We thought it would be nice to accompany Joan for a lap.
“They had a good natter and it was nice to see everyone there.”