- Friday, 24 February 2012
Prue Ruback felt lucky to have a fulfilling life at 60, now it was time for another chapter and a new challenge.
Walking into Henley, feet aching and feeling tired, Prue Ruback (60) completed one of the most demanding challenges of her life. A 78 mile walk in one week might seem like a piece of cake for young, athletic people, but for Prue it was an a real challenge which took quite a bit of preparation and training. This does not erase the fact she did something terrific for charity, raising almost £4,000 for RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People).
It all started when Prue was thinking of ideas to celebrate her milestone birthday of 60 last year. Describing herself as not much of a party animal, Prue realised she wanted to make a difference to other peoples lives, since she felt so lucky to have had such a full and productive life.
One charity that stuck in her mind was RNIB. After listening to one of their radio campaigns during October last year when it described the difference the RNIB Talking Book Service has had on blind and partially sighted people, Prue was fascinated. Something that really stood out was how blind children were excluded from going “Through the Looking Glass” and were left behind when other children went to “Treasure Island.” It struck a chord with Prue. All her life she has worked in education, first as an infant teacher, then as a teacher for dyslexic children and finally as senior lecturer at University teaching literacy to student teachers.
Deciding what challenge to do to support RNIB, Prue says, "I love walking and wondered if I could combine this pastime with raising funds for “a Talking Book” for blind people." After researching long distance footpaths, Prue decided that she needed a challenge that was attainable with the right kind of training and motivation.
Finally she chose the Oxfordshire Way which runs between Bourton on the Water and Henley on Thames. The total distance of the walk is 65 miles and is described as very beautiful and pretty. There was lots of planning to do, especially since this walk was unsupported with no vehicle back up.
Prue was inundated with support from family and friends, with a few members asking if they could take part in the walk. She says, "I was amazed when a relative from Sydney, Australia said he would join us for part of the walk! Several other friends expressed an interest in coming along too! It was both exciting and a bit daunting." She finally fixed the dates, booked her accommodation and even organised a celebration tea for the end of the trek to which friends, family and colleagues were invited.
Prue did quite a bit of training in the run up to the walk mainly in the Peaks and Lake District. All was going well until she started packing her essentials for the big journey. She literally carried nothing but spare socks, a couple items of warm and waterproof clothing, the minimum amount of underwear and essentials.
Prue was staggered by the level of generosity from friends, family and locals. Even though the donations started to come in slowly, by the end of the walk she had nearly doubled her original target of £2,000. Prue jokes that people enquired on her journey what they were doing as they were a bit old for the Duke of Edinburgh. She never felt alone though, and felt excited by the support newcomers whom she encountered her on her travels.
"The funniest moment was one morning when we walked into a tiny sleepy village and sat on a convenient bench outside the Village Hall” said Prue. “A man came out and I enquired if I could get a coffee anywhere nearby. “No, not here" he replied, but he returned some minutes later with hot tea and ginger biscuits on a tray”.
The story then continues with the man warning Prue and her husband not to continue sitting on the bench as the last two people who had sat there were murdered! Little did they realise they had stumbled upon the set of ITV Midsomer Murders. It was these kinds of moments that brightened her spirits and brought laughter and fun when she was feeling weary.
After many surprises, laughs and miles of distance covered, Prue reached the last day of her walk. She walked into Henley and was welcomed by friends and a well deserved tea and cake. She says the celebration tea that followed the next day was magical and she was delighted to see all her family and friends again. Not only did Prue raise almost £4,000 to help blind and partially sighted people, she completed a challenge she had never before undertaken and felt more proud about that than having one of her own books published. She says, "I hadn’t lost any weight from walking what turned out to be 78 miles, but I felt a whole lot fitter. I was elated and quite proud of myself knowing I'd enabled RNIB to produce four new Talking Books. What a result!"
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