A CHARITY worker suffering with deteriorating multiple sclerosis slogged five and a half miles in memory of his late parents and sister-in-law.

Adrian Rowley, 59, was one of hundreds of kind-hearted supporters to take on the make-shift Midday Walk in aid of St Helena Hospice.

After many of its annual fundraisers, including its popular Midnight Walk and Pier to Pier walk, were cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the hospice called on people to take up a challenge from a location of their own choice.

Mr Rowley promised to walk five and a half miles, from Stanway to Broad Green, in the name of his sister-in-law, Anne Rowley.

Anne was just 54 when she died after a fight with bowel cancer more than 12 years ago.

Her family recall the care she received in her final days at St Helena Hospice was “of the highest standard”.

Mr Rowley said: “She left behind a daughter and also my brother, her husband.

“We were all happy with the way she was looked after. She was a bubbly person.”

Mr Rowley’s work and his charity effort has helped to inspire his nine-year-old granddaughter, Chloe.

“So far I have managed to raise £540 and my target was £200, so I am really pleased,” he said.

“But what really brought a lump to my throat was when my granddaughter came up to me and gave me £11.

“I said ‘No darling’, but she shoved it into my pocket and said ‘Granddad, it’s for the people at the hospice.’

“She is very much into doing charity work, she has already done a bicycle ride to help the hospitals.

“She sent me a text when I was on the way round and said ‘Granddad you’re doing so well, take it easy, there’s no rush.’”

Mr Rowley manages a homeless service run by the Colchester branch of the Companions of the Order of Malta.

For the past eight years Mr Rowley, and a team, now numbering about 15 volunteers, run a kitchen to feed rough sleepers hot food and provide supplies.

Although his MS diagnosis has limited his mobility, Mr Rowley says he still spends two evenings every week working.

“It is starting to become a bit of struggle,” he said. “Gradually it is getting worse, things are progressively getting harder.”

As with his work, Mr Rowley was determined to prove he could still do his bit to support the hospice.

He said: “I was diagnosed with progressive MS several years ago.

“In time it could get worse.

“My left side has been affected more severely.

“I have had several relapses which negatively affect my mobility each time this happens.

“I need additional support with simple tasks like walking and use two walking sticks and a walking aid in my shoes to stabilise by balance.

“To complete the distance was a challenge, but it also gave me great satisfaction - I was determined to reach my goal, and raise funds for a well deserved charity in memory of my sister-in-law.”

He also walked in memory of his late parents, Veronica and Peter Rowley.

“I started off on the walk quite well and got to Marks Tey,” he said. “The last 100 yards got really tough, as my left side just sort of went to sleep.

“My stick was dragging along the floor, rather than lifting me up. But what kept me going was the thought of my family waiting for me at the end.

“My three grandchildren, two daughters, my brother and sister and her husband plus my friends were all there.”

Lene Johnson, along with her family and friends as the St Peter’s team, took part in memory of Lene’s daughter, Marie-Louise, who died in February 2016 at the hospice.

They walked from the St Helena Hospice shop in Coggeshall, where Lene volunteers, to Marks Hall and back again.

Lene said: “I wore the purple T-shirt with mixed emotions.

“Taking part in these events always reminds me why I am doing it.

“But during these hard times of barriers, restrictions and limitations to our daily lives, I know that a few hours walking will secure support, assistance and the best quality care.”

Sarah Wilson, the hospice’s fundraising manager, said: “It’s not the event we had originally planned, but as we knew they would, the community threw their support behind the virtual event and helped us make it a success.”

To donate, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/adrian-rowley.