Bill Bryson to join UK charity walk for children’s cancer and leukaemia
Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Communities
Bill Bryson, receiving an honorary degree from the University of Leicester in 2008.
Best-selling author Bill Bryson will join people across the UK taking part in a sponsored walk to raise money and awareness for children’s cancer.
Emily’s Big Walk, organised by the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG) at the University of Leicester, will feature a symbol representing the walk being passed along various routes around the country – in a similar way to the Olympic torch.
Walks will be held at the majority of principal treatment centres for children’s cancer and leukaemia in the UK throughout September, and money raised will go to the CCLG and each local centre.
Mr Bryson, the author of Notes From A Small Island, Notes From A Big Country and A Short History of Nearly Everything, will join walkers for the Newcastle leg.
The walk is named after Emily Bailes, who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of five and lost her battle with the disease in March 2008, aged 9.
She grew up in Bloxwich, Walsall, with her sister Jessica, who is now 17 years old and studying for her A Levels.
Emily’s family set up the Emily Bailes Fund to raise money for the CCLG on July 4, 2008 – which would have been Emily’s 10th birthday.
The fund has raised more than £100,000 for the charity, and Emily’s mother Amanda was keen to organise the walk with the charity this year to coincide with the Olympics and the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) conference in London.
The final destination of the “torch” will be the Barbican Centre in London for the start of the SIOP conference.
Amanda Bailes, 44, who works as an accountant, said: “Since the launch of Emily’s fund in our local area in 2008, I have always had the ambition of organising an event which brings together people in other areas of the country experiencing the trauma of childhood cancer.
“However big or small the event in each region, I hope the walks can bring people together to raise awareness of childhood cancer and also raise much needed funds for both CCLG and the local centre.
“Emily raised lots of funds for charity during her short life and I know she would have been very excited about all the walks and would have insisted on taking part in all of them. I wish all the centres the best of luck with their events and thank them for their tremendous effort and support for Emily's Big Walk.”
Bill Bryson said: “Emily's Big Walk is a tribute to all children diagnosed with cancer in this country. I'm delighted to be able to take part in the Newcastle leg.”
Professor Sue Ablett, CCLG Executive Director, said: “Emily represents all children with cancer – both those who have survived and those who have not. The funds help our prime aim of improving the care of children with cancer and helping our members find more effective ways of treatment. We hope that this may become an annual event.”
Walks are currently set to take place in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Belfast, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Oxford, Southampton, Birmingham, Glasgow, London, Leicester, Nottingham, Cambridge and Cardiff throughout September.
CCLG was formed in 2006 as a result of the merger of the UK Children’s Cancer Study Group and the UK Childhood Leukaemia Party, both of which had been in existence since the 1970s. It is based at the University of Leicester.