Hundreds take part in Sunderland BIG walk

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HUNDREDS of Wearsiders took to the paths for this year’s Sunderland Big Walk yesterday.

Organisers said more than 400 people had signed up to raise money for worthy causes and enjoy a stroll through the city.

Sunderland BIG Walk 2013, starting from the National Glass Centre on Sunday. Walkers l-r Lilian shevlin, raymond Christian and Emma Christian.

Sunderland BIG Walk 2013, starting from the National Glass Centre on Sunday. Walkers l-r Lilian shevlin, raymond Christian and Emma Christian.

Those taking part met at the National Glass Centre on the banks of the Wear at St Peter’s for the start of the walk.

After a warm-up taken by personal fitness trainer Katie Bulmer-Cooke, walkers set off with the sun breaking through the clouds.

Some chose to take on a 11.5mile route, which finished at the top of iconic Penshaw Monument, while others took on a shorter walk which journeyed to the Wetlands Centre in Washington and covered 6.5miles.

Mum Emma Christian was doing the walk to raise cash for Diabetes UK. Her son Owen, five, suffers from the Type 1 condition of the illness.

“He was diagnosed a year ago and at one stage we thought we might lose him,” said Emma, 28, of Downhill, who took on the route alongside her dad Raymond, 62, who has Type 2 diabetes, and her stepsister Lilian Shevlin, 40.

“He’s been treated at the Niall Quinn Children’s Centre at the hospital now so he’s doing better.”

Raymond added: “We’ve done a few walks along to Shields and back to prepare, and we’ve been looking forward to it.”

Charity champ Deano Franciosy was also doing the walk for Diabetes UK. The 44-year-old says he has raised about £45,000 for various charities over the past 20 years.

Deano’s mum Edna died aged 61 in 2001 after suffering from diabetes.

“It’s always a charity that is in my heart so I’ll do anything I can to help them,” said Deano.

Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Bob Heron was at the Glass Centre to set the walkers off.

“It’s great to see so many people here and so many of them are young kids,” said Coun Heron, who was at the event with his wife, Mayoress Julianna.

“We have elderly people doing it as well so it really is the whole community.

“It’s absolutely fantastic.”