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Kitty Kerr’s family ready for 100km Cotswold Way charity walk

All Areas > Sport > Walking

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Friday, 30th June 2017, 09:10

Kitty Kerr Kitty Kerr

Like many people, Tina Duffy was having sleepless nights during the recent heatwave.

It wasn’t the warm temperatures that were causing her to lie awake, however. Tina loves the sun but she was desperate for the cooler weather more commonly associated with our English summers to return.

That’s because she’s embarking on a 100km charity walk along the Cotswold Way on Saturday and Sunday, 1st and 2nd July.

“I’ve looked at the long-range forecast and it doesn’t look too bad,” she chuckled. “If we’d been doing the walk in the heatwave we had last week that would have been very tough.”

Tina and her husband Stuart Kerr, who live in Cheltenham, have been out and about walking 10 to 15 kilometres most days in preparation for the big walk which will raise funds so that their eight-year-old daughter Kitty, who has Diplegic Cerebral Palsy, can have a life-changing operation.

They need to raise £70,000 to £80,000 for the operation and the therapy that follows, which is not currently funded by the NHS, although their initial target is £30,000 by the end of the year.

They will be joined on the two-day challenge by Tina’s two stepsons – Jack and Callum Kerr, both 25 – as well as Tina’s 14-year-old son Gregor, who will be walking 50km. Other friends and family will also be joining them on the walk.

The family have had an “amazing” response to their fundraising campaign which they launched only in the past few weeks.

“We’re 70 per cent towards our first target of £30,000,” said Tina. “People have been amazing and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response we’ve had.

“I think Kitty has struck a chord with a lot of people. This operation is fundamental to her quality of life. It is not for cosmetic reasons and even though the operation – and therapy afterwards – has a good record of success, it has to be self-funded.”

Kitty was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was one. She can get about with a walking frame but she gets tired very quickly. Her parents want her to have the operation at the end of this year or the beginning of next so that she’ll be more mobile – even if she’s walking with sticks – and spasm free for when she starts secondary school, this would help reduce pain, and trauma to her spine and joints.

Surgeons in Bristol will operate on her spinal cord but that, in itself, will not cure the problem. She will then have to have three or four years of therapy so it will be a tough journey.

But with the huge support of family, friends and well-wishers there is every liklihood that the story will have a happy ending.

After this weekend’s hike along the Cotswold Way, there are plenty more fundraising events planned.

Cheltenham Saracens Rugby Club – for whom Jack plays – have promised to donate all the proceeds from their adult sevens day on Saturday 8th July to the fund. “It’s very, very kind of them,” said Tina.

The following Saturday there will be an adult school disco at St Gregory’s Primary School in Cheltenham where Kitty is a pupil.

“It will be held in the dining room,” laughed Tina. “It’s for over-18s and we’ll play a lot of the cheesy music from the 70s and 80s. We’ve also said people can dress up in school uniforms if they want to.”

Meanwhile a parent from Cheltenham Tigers Rugby Club under-15s has organised a 24-hour sponsored walk and fun day at the beginning of September.

“It’s on Friday and Saturday, 1st and 2nd September,” said Tina. “It’s a walking relay and Gregor and his under-15 team-mates will be walking round the pitch at The Newlands.”

Other things in the pipeline include a ‘clubercise’ and a new toys sale.

Details of the fundraising events can be found at @Cotswoldkittywalks Facebook page. Donations to JustGiving or text £5 to KITT93 70070.

Other Images

Kitty Kerr
Kitty Kerr
Kitty Kerr after presenting flowers to Princess Anne who was visiting the Cotswold Riding for the Disabled Association to mark its 50th anniversary
Kitty Kerr at the Cotswold Riding for the Disabled Association

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