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Stepping Out: Walks for Carers

23 March 2018: From Vegas to Bollywood on Carers’ Walk in Hythe

Heather and Peter Lawson caused a sensation on the first Stepping Out Carers’ Walk of 2018 in Hythe. They brought along the picture album of their wedding day – in Las Vegas, including the Elvis lookalike who gave her away.  “He was a very nice young man.  Looked just like him.”

The couple, from Whitstable, had always planned to marry in Vegas but it had been necessary to delay the wedding a year while Peter recovered from a severe stroke he suffered in 2006.  He was in hospital for five months.  The doctors allowed him home for Christmas and he never went back.  Heather became his full-time carer.  She also cares for her daughter who has four children herself and is profoundly deaf.

“Peter has improved since he first had his stroke and he refuses to be miserable.  It’s part of my role to keep cheerful too.  My daughter doesn’t like seeing miserable faces either.  So I always put on a happy face.”

That was evident on the Hythe Walk where a large crowd of over 50 gathered to kick off the new Stepping Out season.  New walkers included members of the Hythe Dementia Forum and 97-year-old Elsie Carter, from Allington, Maidstone, who had fond memories of Hythe from the days she and her husband, Don, used to visit from their then-home in London with their children.  Neither she nor her husband ever learned to drive so walking was a regular mode of transport, along with buses and trains.

Elsie declined to join in the Bollywood Dancing – a special finale after lunch at the Hythe Imperial Hotel.  “But my younger sister, Gladys, would definitely have loved it.  She’s 94, she said.”  The family was still represented on the dance floor by Elsie’s daughter and carer, Brenda Garlick.

The dancing was led by Minal who runs the hugely popular Bollywood Blast dance classes in Kent http://www.bollywood-blast.co.uk/. She was also competing in her own marathon – Bollywood Style – by leading 25 sponsored dances on the 25th March as a contribution to this year’s Sport Relief campaign.

The new season of monthly Stepping Out walks will take place this year between March and October, offering scenic, sociable, health-inducing walking for carers and the people they care for.  The programme is run jointly between the Kent Ramblers and the local Carer Support organisations.  With an estimated 5.5 million carers in England alone, and many of them reporting high levels of stress and loneliness, the simple act of going for a walk with friends has immense proven benefits.

This year’s programme will include visits to Hole Park in Tenterden, the Isle of Sheppey and Deal in August during the White Cliffs Walking Festival. For the full listing please visit: Stepping Out.

 *With many thanks to Nick Cocks, Sittingbourne Cabs, for his time and the provision of a taxi specially adapted for mobility scooters.