Gallery: Cricket legend leads charity walk through county town
CRICKETING legends Sir Ian Botham and Freddie Flintoff came to Chelmsford on the penultimate leg of a fundraising walk which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for a children’s cancer charity.
CRICKETING legends Sir Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff were in an Essex town on the penultimate leg of a fundraising walk which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for a children’s cancer charity.
Sir Ian, 54, is president of Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research and has been boosting the coffers of the charity since 1985 when he first walked for them, from John O’Groats to Lands End.
Since then, he has carried out 13 charity walks, raising more than �10million, and this year’s marks the 25th anniversary of his first fundraiser.
He set off from Manchester on April 10 and will finish the event - which covers ten towns and cities - in London today.
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In the intervening years, survival rates for children with leukaemia have soared from 20% in 1985 to 90% today.
Crowds gathered in Chelmsford High Street yesterday where Sir Ian and around 150 other fundraisers started the walk, which covered 13 miles and finished up in Hylands Park.
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He said: “It has been great, the weather has been good every day and I have had a lovely welcome to Chelmsford.”
Looking back to his first walk, he said: “I was fit then, it was easier and there was no hanging around. I have had to train hard as I am not getting any younger!”
Sir Ian chatted to the public and posed for photos, as well as meeting Chelmsford mayor Tony Sach. He jokingly asked him “isn’t Nasser the mayor of Chelmsford yet then?” - a reference to his fellow Sky TV cricket commentator, former Essex and England cricket captain Nasser Hussain.
One of the walkers helping raise funds was Mathew Speller, whose daughter Maisie, four, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia not long before her third birthday.
His wife Emma, who also has a son Oliver, six, said: “As a mum, to know people are going out of their way like this to raise money means so much.”
Maisie, who lives with her family in Great Notley, is currently on a maintenance dose of chemotherapy following initial treatment in Great Ormond Street Hospital.
And Mr Flintoff was on hand to cajole the public into handing over their cash as he roamed the town with a collecting bucket.
Mr Flintoff was supposed to be at his home in Dubai but has been stranded in the UK due to the Iceland volcano eruption.