The weather was perfect for walking – much kinder than yesterday’s wet and windy conditions. My mum, who’s been living with me since lockdown, is in charge of the weather for the duration of my walk – she has a hot line to St Anthony who usually answers her prayers – although he’s up against it at the moment as she’s also asked him to find my sister’s engagement ring! Anyway, so far so good.
This walk was generously sponsored by Di Steele in memory of her aunt Hilda Wadham who lived in the Chichester area during WW2. I met Di’s aunt Hida, sadly when she had dementia, she was absolutely charming.
St Wilfrid’s Hospice was situated on the trail, but a year ago ( July 2019) moved to a fabulous new building at Bosham, three miles to the east.Although the new build has increased the number of beds from 14 to 18, the majority of care St Wilfrid’s provides takes place in the community – in people’s homes. St Wilfrid’s supports a community of over 80,000 households and receives only 15% in Government funding.
The old hospice building has been demolished and a care home is being built on the old site. It was lovely to get a virtual wave from Alison Moorey, Chief Executive of St Wilfrid’s.
I set off at 8.00am from Chichester Station and was soon walking along the towpath of the Chichester Ship Canal, which was peaceful and beautiful and a fabulous start to my journey.I stopped to say hello to some ducks and coots and a pair of swans, closely guarding their cygnets. Here I’d planned a (distanced) rendezvous with Roger Bloxham – FSH pro-bono photographer – and his wife, Lesley, at Poyntz Bridge which has a stunning view with the spire of the Cathedral in the distance.
Poyntz Bridge was the location of Turner’s famous 1828 Chichester Canal painting.
Chichester Cathedral has been a generous host to FSH over the years. I have fond memories of a Hymnathon in 2013 when choirs from across Sussex sang all 542 hymns of the New English Hymnal without a break, and of a service in 2017 which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the modern hospice movement by Dame Cicely Saunders. All of the Sussex hospices took part in these events…..they were very special.I’ve also enjoyed several of the magnificent flower festivals the cathedral organises every other year to raise money for the upkeep and development of the Cathedral.
Later I walked past The Spotted Cow with a blackboard outside proclaiming “RE-OPEN SAT 4TH WHOO! HOO!!”
Along public footpaths across wheat fields, courgette crops and through what felt like endless miles of polytunnels I saw so many strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. I never knew we produced such an abundance of these fruits here in Sussex!
Despite many kind offers by friends to walk sections of the trail with me, I chose to walk the trail on my own because I wanted to use it as a personal meditative journey. I have a book of Buddist thoughts for each day, each thought accompanied by a beautifully poignant photograph. Today’s page read: “Want what you have and don’t want what you don’t have.Here you will find true fulfilment.” Throughout my life I’ve mostly wanted what I didn’t have – or believed I didn’t have – and not fully owned what I have. As I embark on this journey around our beautiful county I hope the time and space and the rhythm of walking alone will bring clarity.
Our thanks to Di Steele (below) for her generous sponsorship of this section of the Sussex Hospices Trail in memory of her aunt Hilda Wadham.