Celebrating two decades of Walk for Life

Scarborough town Crier Alan Booth is joined by Deputy Mayor Helen Mallory, left, and walk organiser Helen Tomczak, starting the Walk for Life 2012.  Picture by Andrew Higgins  121093a  11/03/12
Scarborough town Crier Alan Booth is joined by Deputy Mayor Helen Mallory, left, and walk organiser Helen Tomczak, starting the Walk for Life 2012. Picture by Andrew Higgins 121093a 11/03/12

Scarborough’s much-loved Walk for Life event is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Plans are being put in place for the 20th annual walk, which will take place on Sunday April 6.

The very first walk was the brainchild of the then-Mayor Eileen Bosomworth, who wanted to help local communities by creating a vehicle for fundraising in the Scarborough area.

On that day a record bid was made for the longest conga around the Marine Drive, Sandside and Foreshore Road.

In 1997 Eileen asked Linda Tomczak if she would take over the organising of the walk, which Linda has done ever since.

More recently Theresa Hargreaves, Linda’s step-daughter, has also become a co-ordinator for the walk.

On the third Walk for Life in 1997, more than 3,500 took part in the biggest simultaneous line dance on Foreshore Road, which was a “brilliant spectacle” according to Linda.

She added: “It was wonderful. My husband Tony and I had only been married a couple of weeks and we took part dressed up as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

“People enjoy getting dressed up, but we always remind people that it’s not compulsory! Also it’s not mandatory to raise funds - you can just come along and enjoy the walk.”

This year, for those wanting to don fancy dress, the theme is “Carnival”, which gives plenty of scope for some fun and flamboyant outfits.

Participants can raise money for a charity of their choice, with every penny going to the chosen charity and nothing put towards the organisation of the walk.

Many thousands of pounds have been raised over the years for local communities and favourite charities.

Linda said: “Many people check with me that we are holding the walk each year as this event is their main fundraiser to raise precious funds to keep their organisation or charity going.

“This means it is important to us to set a date as early as we can to facilitate this walk.”

Linda continued: “The main purpose of the walk is to come and join us, on your own, with the family, with friends, bring the dog (with poop bags of course) and walk our fabulous sea front from the Open Air Theatre entrance along the Royal Albert Drive, Marine Drive, through the Toll House, along Sandside and Foreshore Road to the Spa Complex - distance of approximately 3.5 miles.

“It is good for the heart and soul and a wonderful walk with spectacular views. Last year we even had sitings of porpoises in the sea of the North Bay.”

The Walk starts at 2pm at the entrance to the Open Air theatre adjacent to the pelican crossing.

Scarborough’s mayor and mayoress, Andrew and Sue Backhouse will be coming to the event, as will town crier Alan Booth, who will be starting off the walk.

There will be music and warm-up exercises and the singing of the Walk For Life song leading up to the start of the walk, so please arrive in good time.

Linda is also pleased to confirm that Boyes have donated a supply of creme eggs, which will be given out to children as they pass through the Toll House.

She said: “We’re all really looking forward to it. We’ve had lots of people asking for the date of the walk already.

“People come back year after year and we get a lot out of organising it. It’s lovely to see everybody making their way along the drive.

“My husband and I tend to walk the route the week before - we too busy with organising things on the day!”

Linda, who works in health and safety at Raflatac, is due to retire in a couple of months time, so she is looking forward to being able to dedicate even more time to Walk for Life next year and beyond.

One of the more tricky tasks is getting all the information together afterwards about how much has been raised and for which charities, so this is an area she hopes to focus on.

In her free time, Linda is also looking forward to going on long walks with her husband and indulging in her love of craft-based hobbies.

Linda said: “Around £8,000 to £10,000 is raised on average each year. People can give the funds they raise to any charity - we just ask them to let us know which one they choose.

“It’s great to be able to get an idea of where the money is going. People’s generosity surprises us every year.”

Sponsorship cards are available to those who are raising funds. They can be obtained from the Scarborough News Office in Aberdeen Walk or by ringing (01723) 351006.

Linda said: “Facilities will be in place to have your cards stamped at the beginning of the walk or as you pass through the Toll House.

“We look forward to seeing you on Sunday April 6 for what we plan to be a great event.”

Walk for Life attracts hundreds of participants of all ages every year - everyone is welcome.

People are encouraged to get their sponsorship forms as early as possible.