Blog: Rob Bryan, BPE Equity Partner and Walker-in-Chief on the Macmillan Way Challenge, talks about why he is so passionate about Macmillan Cancer Support and his excitement about walking the Macmillan Way this summer.

Looking back, my family has always been passionate about fundraising. My “Grandmum”, as we called my maternal grandmother, founded the first ever Save The Children shops in the early 1970s. I can remember from the age of around 10 or 11, shaking a box on flag days with my Mum and her brother and sisters to fund-raise, so I think it must be in our genes!

However, it was my daughter, Charlotte, who was the first to sow the seed of the idea to walk the Macmillan Way. In early 2012, then age 12, Charlotte, and the other members of my family, were helping to support my Mum and Dad through the early stages of Mum’s journey with the relatively rare, peritoneal cancer when Charlotte identified the Way, which runs immediately behind our Oxfordshire home, as being a possible source of help for her Nanna and other cancer sufferers.

Mum found out on her 71st birthday that she had cancer. She was told she had a year to live. Thankfully, Mum lived for three years, and died at home, with my Dad, as ever, with her, a week short of her 74th birthday, in October 2014. Mum’s Macmillan nurse, Emma Carroll, was a fabulous source of assurance and support to both Mum and my immediate family.

Mum received the most wonderful care. Although it was of course a horrible and gruelling experience for her and the family to go through, she was incredibly fortunate to spend only two nights in hospital over the course of three years. This was, in no small part, due to Emma Carroll.

As I became more involved with Macmillan and aware of their work, I was astounded to discover that they support an estimated 5.8 million people affected by cancer each year, in the UK. What I didn’t know, but found out through talking to the nurses we met along the way, is that Macmillan has to fund the first year of training and employment for every one of their nurses. This is a huge cost but almost everyone faced with a diagnosis of cancer in their family will agree that the support Macmillan nurses provide means they are worth every penny. They care for patients with dignity, grace, and compassion. They are also fundamental in the whole family’s journey, which would have been much more difficult without Macmillan.

The famous green and white marker

And so fast forward to today. At BPE, we encourage everyone to take a sabbatical for every 10 years of ‘service.’  I am using a month of mine to walk the Macmillan Way and, hopefully, raise a considerable sum for Macmillan Cancer Care.

The Macmillan Way is the second longest footpath in the UK. Walking the Way is a well known fundraiser, but I when I spoke to Macmillan, they said no-one has ever attempted it with groups of people joining them along the route. My hope is that we can get as many people as possible to walk with us, whether that means a mile, ten miles or a hundred. Everyone is welcome! So far, the support we’ve received has been incredible. We have individuals taking part, MPs and whole companies doing walking days. Walking the whole route with me will be my BPE colleague, John Russell. John is famous for rafting across the Atlantic so I’m hoping he will have some tricks up his sleeve to help keep us going! We even have a Shenington Village Walking Day and Barn Dance on Saturday 8th July and Sunday 9th July, so please click here to buy your ticket today!

My training is going well, I’m walking most days now and starting to take on 12 or so mile challenges at the weekend. What I’m most looking forward to though is the camaraderie among the walkers, seeing our house at the 127 mile marker and of course, the sight of the sea at Abbotsbury (and the following fish & chips and a large glass of something cool to celebrate!).

Please do come and join us if you can – any level of support is hugely welcome and will make a big difference to someone out there who, like my family found out, needs Macmillan’s wonderful help.
Rob Bryan, 21st March 2017.