Hundreds enjoy Active Sunderland BIG Walk at Herrington Country Park as annual event returns

Walkers young and old descended on Herrington Country Park in Sunderland for the return of much-loved family event.

Sunday, 26th June 2022, 2:27 pm

The Active Sunderland BIG Walk was back Herrington Country Park on Sunday, June 26, as hundreds of walkers took part in enjoying the sunshine, seeing picturesque views and raising money for causes close to their heart.

The walk has been running since 2010 and gives participants the option of a three, eight or 12-mile route, with many walkers raising money for their chosen charities along the way and others using it as a chance to get fit and active.

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Walkers take part in Sunderland big walk at Herrington Country Park. Picture - North News

After completing the walk, participants were able to enjoy a performance from The Rock Choir, as well as free family games and activities.

One walker, Laura Cliff, who gave birth to a premature baby in Sunderland Royal Hospital five weeks ago, managed to raise over £1,000 for the hospital’s NICU unit.

She told the Echo: “We’re super happy with how much we managed to raise. My five-week-old daughter Reeva has just got out of the NICU after being born prematurely.

"She was in there for three weeks and only got out two weeks ago. My two-year-old Franki also spent time there when she was born so we felt like we needed to give something back to them as a thank you for everything they’ve done.”

Walkers take part in Sunderland big walk at Herrington Country Park. Picture - North News

Another walker, Helen Mckerill, 53, from South Shields, took part in the walk with her daughters Sophie, 15 and Emily 21, for the charity Melanoma Me, in honour of her husband Paul, who passed away from melanoma, in 2015.

She said: “We did the three-mile route today for Melanoma Me who raise awareness of melanoma.

"Events like this are so brilliant. It’s like the Great North Run, they get thousands and thousands of people supporting local charities and it’s not as far so more people can get involved.”

Well-known Sunderland fundraiser Deano Franciosy, 53, also took part in the event, walking three miles with a wheelie bin strapped to his back.

Walkers take part in Sunderland big walk at Herrington Country Park. Picture - North News

He said: “I did the walk for the Sunderland Hospital ICCU unit. I’m a bin man and I’ve been doing fundraising with my wheelie bin for the last six years now and I love every minute of it.”

Sandra Jameson, 38, also did the three-mile route together with her husband Andrew, 42 and two children Drew, 8 and Drake, 5.

She said: “We thought it would be a nice bit of fun and it’s a good way to stay healthy and active. Events like this are really good to get everybody involved and get the children active. It’s a nice way to promote Sunderland as well.”

Andrew Jameson, Sandra Jameson, Drew Jameson, 8, and brother Drake, 5, from Eden Vale.

Everyone who took part in the walk received an event t-shirt, medal and finisher goodie bag for their hard work.

Sunderland City Council's Cabinet Member for Vibrant City, Councillor Linda Williams said: "Great news that our big walk is back again in 2022.

"Previous walks have seen hundreds of people getting out and about, being active and getting their steps in.

"The walk is great for families and youngsters on the shorter routes, and for groups who fancy a bit more of a ramble and a challenge then the longer routes along the river banks and around Penshaw are perfect.”

Laura Cliff with daughter Franki Cliff, 2, raised over £1,000 for Sunderland Hospital NICU.