Steps for the fu­ture

YASEMIN GÜLPINAR fol­lows the course of a two-day sur­vival chal­lenge rais­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness and char­ity funds in mem­ory of an ex­pat res­i­dent.

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“BE­YOND our wildest dreams” was the ver­dict of Pa­tri­cia Nairn, one of the team be­hind the sec­ond “Nor­man’s Walk”, rais­ing funds for young can­cer pa­tients in mem­ory of her late part­ner, Nor­man Aitken. Last week­end’s event dou­bled its in­au­gu­ral num­bers and pro­ceeds, some 15 months af­ter Mr Aitken lost his own bat­tle with the dis­ease. The Ke­mal Saraçoğlu Foun­da­tion for Chil­dren with Leukaemia and the Fight Against Can­cer will ben­e­fit to the tune of 11,000TL from the two-day chal­lenge, af­ter last year’s 50 par­tic­i­pants had gen­er­ated 5,183TL for the Help Those With Can­cer As­so­ci­a­tion (Tulips). This time, 93 peo­ple, among them chil­dren and adults of var­i­ous na­tion­al­i­ties, from Rus­sian to Ger­man, Bri­tish, French and Turk­ish Cypriot, camped, walked and joined in a range of ac­tiv­i­ties last Satur­day and Sun­day. The event — also known as the Sur­vive Beş­par­mak chal­lenge and or­gan­ised by Wendy and Çağan Sarıoğlu, own­ers of Al­san­cak’s Oak Tree Park — was con­ceived last year when Ms Nairn and a group of Mr Aitken’s friends de­cided to stage a walk in trib­ute to the keen hiker and na­ture-lover who passed away on July 31, 2017 af­ter 14 years liv­ing in the TRNC. Ms Nairn said the idea had been to do some­thing “dif­fer­ent”, in which chil­dren and fam­i­lies could par­tic­i­pate, join­ing in fun ac­tiv­i­ties that would make them think about the en­vi­ron­ment while en­joy­ing moun­tain­side trails.

Re­flect­ing on last week­end’s suc­cesss, she said: “A cou­ple of days be­fore­hand we were think­ing ‘are we even go­ing to make the 50 of last year’s at­ten­dance’ — then on Satur­day we were shocked at how ev­ery­one came flood­ing in to sign up!

“The whole two days were ab­so­lutely amaz­ing, es­pe­cially know­ing that we were do­ing good for chil­dren while hav­ing such a won­der­ful time. Our spon­sors were also very gen­er­ous and we’re hop­ing we cre­ate a mo­men­tum and con­tinue with this suc­cess in the fol­low­ing years.”

She said the group had only had six weeks to pre­pare last year’s first event, fol­low­ing Mr Aitken’s death, and she had been “hope­less” and “still in a state of shock”.

“This year, we de­cided to be­gin ear­lier and worked on it since April. We had more mem­bers on our fundrais­ing team to bring in dif­fer­ent ideas, es­pe­cially en­cour­ag­ing chil­dren to pick up as much lit­ter as they could, mak­ing a point of the pol­lu­tion

prob­lems we have. We also di­rected peo­ple to bring re­us­able items, to high­light the use of plas­tic and the harm it causes.”

As well as lit­ter-pick­ing while walk­ing, ac­tiv­i­ties in­cluded a scav­enger hunt, sur­vival work­shop and irst aid train­ing at the group’s overnight camp­site above Il­gaz.

“The scav­enger hunt was to mark the im­por­tance of pro­tect­ing and know­ing our na­ture and was also ed­u­ca­tional, as we had ques­tions ask­ing chil­dren to find a leaf from a spe­cific tree while we walked along,” said Ms Nairn, adding: “All in all, our suc­cess in at­tract­ing loads of peo­ple was also from the pub­lic­ity we got, as it’s all about get­ting the word out there. We thank ev­ery­one for sup­port­ing us in this emo­tional and happy oc­ca­sion.”

Ke­mal Saraçoğlu Foun­da­tion co­or­di­na­tor Övgü İnce added: “This was not just an or­di­nary char­ity event, but a very mean­ing­ful one, as it was held in mem­ory of some­one who lost their fight against can­cer and was to keep his name alive.

“It also had great value in the lives of chil­dren who were ac­tively in­volved in en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion by clean­ing up through­out the whole event, be­ing ac­tive and do­ing sport, as well as learn­ing about an or­gan­i­sa­tion which helps chil­dren for whom they also raised money.

“The event also pointed out the im­por­tance of the en­vi­ron­ment and how be­ing ac­tive is good for us. Many of those who at­tended had been un­aware of our char­ity and we even had one child who raised 600TL in spon­sor­ship to help our chil­dren in some way.”

Ms İnce said the 11,000TL was “very big money” for the char­ity, which has monthly out­go­ings in­clud­ing cov­er­ing ed­u­ca­tional bur­saries for 13 univer­sity stu­dents and rent for fam­i­lies whose chil­dren are un­der­go­ing can­cer treat­ment in Turkey.

“Those who or­gan­ised this event are very beau­ti­ful peo­ple who were in­ter­ested to know more about us and what we do and then de­cided to help us, for which we are grate­ful.”

The youngest ‘walker’ Taron Şe­nay (18 months old) sup­ported by his par­ents, Katja and Mehmet Şe­nay

The camp­site af­ter the walk­ers have ar­rived

Övgü İnce presents cer­tifi­cates to those who helped or­gan­ise and sup­ported the event

The fund rais­ing group: from left, Joanne Hickey, Wendy Sarıoğlu, Glen Quelch, Seda Dje­mal, Mustafa Oral­man, Pa­tri­cia Nairn (Nor­man Aitken’s part­ner and in­sti­ga­tor of Nor­man’s Walk), Deniz Oral­man, Çağan Sarıoğlu, Su­san Gürel (from Ke­mal Saraçoğlu), Adem Bay­man (first aid in­struc­tor) Pho­tos: Brian Joyce

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