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Event run for Anna's Challenges
AS SATURDAY nights out go, walking across red hot embers is not your usual evening entertainment.
But a determined group of fundraisers opted to ditch the telly, steel their nerves, and walk across fire in aid of a Basingstoke charity.
At Basingstoke Rugby Football Club, in Down Grange, 43 supporters of Anna’s Challenges literally hot-footed it across a 617 degrees Celsius strip of wood embers to drum up funds for the organisation.
And the group’s extraordinary feat helped Anna’s Challenges, which raises money for the cystic fibrosis unit at Basingstoke hospital’s Charlie’s Day Unit, to bank an impressive £13,000.
The charity’s founders Paul Marke, 40, and his wife Rachel Marke, 34, who themselves braved the burning strip, were over the moon at the total.
Rachel said when she started organising the firewalk challenge, she hoped to hit £5,000 at best.
“It was just phenomenal,” said mum-of-two Rachel, from Winklebury. “I had hoped to get £4,000, and secretly thought that £5,000 could be possible, but this is just an incredible amount.”
Staff from Manchester-based specialists UK Firewalk gave those taking part tips on how to do the feat – and many were surprised at how “easy” it was to endure the heat.
Paul said: “Beforehand, your body is fighting you. You don’t want to do it. But when you cross it, you don’t feel it. Actually, the cold ground was more painful than the fire.”
Chloe Lentell, 16, from Buckskin, Basingstoke, was the evening’s youngest fire walker. She said: “I thought it was a great experience. I thought it was going to be painful but I ended up doing it three times. It was more of a ‘come on you can do it’, rather than ‘Oh my God, I am going to get burned’.”
And Luis Morris, 49, from Eastrop, Basingstoke, added: “I was intrigued with what ‘trick’ they would use to get us across, but it was just mind over matter.”
Anna’s Challenges was founded in February 2010. The couple’s daughter Anna, four, was diagnosed with the debilitating condition shortly after she was born.
Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that makes it hard for sufferers to breathe, and Anna has endured regular lengthy stays at Basing-stoke hospital.
To date, kind supporters have raised thousands by swimming the Thames, through exercise-a-thons, and by running marathons, allowing the charity to buy essential medical equipment to help the day unit’s young patients.