The Sunday Post (Dundee)
If Natalia stops walking her heart will break...
‘Walk of love’ round GB coast after Elizabeth, 5, died of rare condition
NATALIA SPENCER is walking. Walking for miles and miles, day after day, because she knows if she stops, her heart will break.
Natalia lost Elizabeth, her fiveyear-old daughter, last December after the youngster suffered a rare autoimmune condition brought on by a common virus.
The 41-year-old mum has barely been home since. She can’t stand to be there.
Instead, she finds herself in the remote and sometimes wild terrain of north-west Scotland, as she treks along the British coastline in memory of seaside-loving Elizabeth.
She began walking on February 14 from Durdle Door in Dorset, the last beach she and Elizabeth visited together, and hasn’t stopped walking since.
Natalia’s covered more than 3000 miles – a little over half of the coastline – but there’s no escaping the nightmare every parent fears.
“It’s good to keep myself occupied,” Natalia said. “Waking up every morning without my daughter is the hardest thing and I feel there’s no alternative but to walk.
“I know some good will come out of it but it doesn’t ease my pain, nothing can. I do it because it takes up my day.”
Some of the good that’s already come out of it is the near £65,000 her Walk of Love has raised so far for the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity, making her on track to hit the £100,000 target she set.
Another positive is all of the people she has met along the way – especially those in Scotland.
“I can’t change my situation, but hopefully the money raised can help other children,” continued Natalia, who lives in Cheltenham and also has a grown-up son.
“I’ve met a lot of people along the way who have suffered a loss and they tell me their stories.
“I love Scotland and the Scottish people. I’d heard about Scots before I came here and it’s all true. They have been so helpful, kind, generous and friendly.
“The accents change as I go round the coast but the people don’t and I’d like to thank them.”
Natalia admitted she can’t bear to think of what she will do once she completes her walk in six months’ time.
In the meantime, Natalia’s progress can be followed on elizabethsfootprint.com, with many people meeting up with her to take part in a stretch of the walk.
“I’ve had lots join me – probably 80% of the distance so far I’ve done with others.
“I’m not an outdoor person or a walker, so I’m doing the best I possibly could in this situation.
“Since I left in February I’ve walked six days a week. I catch up with my admin on Saturdays but I’ve taken no extra days off.
“I feel like I’m part of a big family out on the road, one big footprint family.”
To donate to Natalia’s Walk of Love, visit justgiving.com/ Natalia-Spencer
Some good will come out of it, but it doesn’t ease the pain. Nothing