A charitable family from Penistone have pledged to walk the 25 kilometre boundary of their beloved town, to raise funds for Bluebell Wood, as part of our #LetsPledge campaign.

21-year-old Alex Smith, dad Justin (52), and girlfriend Rachel Clayton (20) will take on the trail around the historic market town on Saturday 30th May, setting off from Cubley Hall.

The walk will lead the trio on a scenic route of the Sheffield town, with views of the 29 arch Penistone viaduct, and stops by the Scout Dyke and Moor Royd Reservoir, and the River Don.

The inspirational family, who have been in lockdown together since March, were motivated to lace up their walking boots after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and they began to see how the outbreak was affecting local charities such as Bluebell Wood.

“Our family are all getting on alright at home – Rachel and my dad are both working from home now, and my mum, Rebecca, works as a nurse,” said Alex, who works as a quantity surveyor at Monaghans in Sheffield with his girlfriend.

“My mum’s quite lucky, as she’s not out there on the frontline, but she spends her time visiting people at home, including a lot of elderly people who are self-isolating. Sometimes her visits can be the only chance they get some speak to another person, even if that person’s a nurse doing a blood test.”

Seeing Rebecca (51) support vulnerable people in the community, got the trio thinking about how families of vulnerable children at Bluebell Wood were coping in self-isolation.

“Although we’re fortunate enough not to have needed Bluebell Wood’s services, we know how important the hospice is to families in the local area.

"Charities like Bluebell Wood are being impacted significantly by the current outbreak – the hospice has had to cancel events, and they’re having to support families in different ways to keep everyone safe. Raising money for the hospice felt like the right thing to do.”

As part of the Penistone Round Table, Justin – a tax director from Kirk Newsholme in Leeds – has organised annual walks along the Penistone boundary, and so their mammoth fundraising challenge was born.

Alex added, “We enjoy going on walks as a family, although we’ve never walked this far before so we’re not sure how long it’s going to take us! We’ve been using our exercise each day to go for short practice walks along parts of the route, but we know the actual walk will be a wholly different experience!

“Our main challenge will be the weather; we’re hoping it’s not too hot – we’ve all got pale skin so we’re bound to get sunburnt! My dad also has artificial cartilage in both his knees so pacing is an issue. The main thing is that we keep up a decent pace and finish together. My mum will be meeting us halfway through the route to cheer us on too (and provide us with food to keep us going)!”

Sally Baker, Community Fundraising Manager at Bluebell Wood, said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to Alex, Justin and Rachel for joining our #LetsPledge campaign and tackling such a challenging walk to raise funds for us.

“Their hard-work and generosity will help us continue to be there for some of the most vulnerable children in our communities at a time when they need our help more than ever. We’ll be cheering them on from the hospice on Saturday 30th May, and we can’t wait to hear how they get on.”

You can support Alex, Rachel and Justin by making a donation towards their fundraising challenge at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alexandjusboundarywalk.