Another perfect day. Caroline Nicholls very kindly ferried me to Arundel Station, the start of my third walk, and gave me some useful pointers about what I might expect as she’d walked this section as part of FSH’s Walk The Hospices Trail event two years ago.
The first part of the walk took me alongside the River Arun, where, in the early morning sunshine the nature reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust made for a calm and scenic start. Thinking back to the castle I was reminded of The Earl and Countess of Arundel hosting a dinner for FSH in 2018 when our guest speakers were Julian Fellowes and Hugh Bonneville – a really splendid occasion which raised £70,000 for our hospices.
My walk continued along part of the Monarch’s Way, a 615 mile long-distance path that approximates the escape route to France (from Worcester to Brighton) taken by King Charles II in 1651 after being defeated in the Battle of Worcester.
Continuing through the Angmering Estate, I crossed pastures and a forest of majestic beech trees. A little further on I took a detour to call at Chestnut Tree House hospice where some of the nursing staff came out to cheer me on. Chestnut Tree House cares for approximately 300 children and young adults from 0-19 years of age with progressive life-limiting conditions. It currently costs over £4 million to provide the care services offered with only 5% of this coming from government.
Back on the trail I was again treated to some stunning scenery – emerging from some woodland into a crop field I could see the tall spire of Patching Church and the sea beyond. As my trail notes suggested, I stopped on the bench alongside the lynch gate at St John the Divine church for refreshments. I went inside and used the sanitiser provided in the porch, leaving my contact details on a list on the baptismal font (for Covid tracking purposes). It is a pretty church and had a nice feel about it.
On continuing through the sleepy village I saw a man clipping a hedge which was populated with some very quirky scare-crows which made me smile. I asked the man, his name was Roy Hogan, why they were there. He said he’d originally put one there and noticed it made people smile, so he added more which made people smile even more. He told me that his wife, Joan, was born in their brick and flint stone house, at the door of which stood a life size cardboard cut out of Boris Johnson, a recent birthday present to Joan from their daughter. I wandered on still carrying the smile Roy had given me.
After the village the trail took some peculiar zig-zags across fields leading to an underpass beneath the A27 just beyond The World’s End pub. After a climb up through Highdown Copse I was rewarded with some truly magnificent views which took in Brighton and a long stretch of the south coast.
I had earlier made a plan through the good offices of Ruth Taylor, Trustee of St. Barnabas House, to call in to the hospice but was running about an hour late.
Fortunately, Ruth’s husband Kevin met and guided me through that last stretch and I was greeted on arrival by Becki, Joanna, Kate.
St Barnabas has 20 inpatient beds but the majority of its care takes place in the community – in people’s homes. It costs St Barnabas just over £8 million to provide that care, of which only 17% comes from government. I’d received messages of support from Chair, Patricia Woolgar, Chief Executive, Rosemarie Finley and Clinical Director, Cathy Stone. All said how proud they were to work with such a dedicated team of healthcare professionals who work tirelessly to provide vital hospice care and who have all gone above and beyond – rising to the challenges presented by Covid-19.
Today’s walk was long and varied and quite, quite beautiful. Its length and the peace and solitude provided on many of its sections gave me the time and space to meditate. I found the rhythm of walking acted like a sort of mantra helping me to disengage from my mind and go within. It really was a perfect day!
My thanks to Lisa Welton who sponsored this section of the Sussex Hospices Trail in memory her father Peter Hamilton-Price R.N.