Five friends who completed 55k of the South Coast Challenge last weekend. They are Joanne Thornton, Kirsty Stitt, Karen Andrews, and Michelle and Dan Hancock.

Friends complete 55k of South Coast Challenge

Five friends successfully completed 55k of the South Coast Challenge last weekend – and all agreed it was the hardest thing they had ever done.

Joanne Thornton, Kirsty Stitt, Karen Andrews, and Michelle and Dan Hancock raised funds for different charities. Read about reasons for their choices and how they got on below.

The friends started walking at 7am and finished at 8.15pm with four stops for refreshments.

Joanne Thornton

Joanne Thornton who works part-time as personal banker in Natwest, Uckfield, is mum of Jack, 16, and Samuel, 13, and married to Dave, an exercise widower.

Joanne has run four marathons, including Beachy Head, and last year did the 45k London to Brighton challenge.

She said the South Coast Challenge was by far the hardest. She did very little training due to suffering with a Morton’s Neuroma and is awaiting surgery.

Worst part

Joanne said: “I honestly had times where I didn’t think I would finish it. The worst part was trying to contend with the horrendous winds we had, which were then topped off by rain.

“I do these silly challenges after losing my best friend to melanoma in 2011 at the young age of 43.

“To date this challenge has raised £840 for children with cancer which brings my overall fundraising since her passing to £6,700 for various cancer and hospice charities. I hope she’d be proud of me.”

Joanne’s fund-raising page can be found here.

Kirsty Stitt

Kirsty Stitt is manager at Barclays Tunbridge Wells. She has two teenage boys  Oskar and Felix and a very supportive husband who now just rolls his eyes and just agrees to all the competitive sports challenges that she undertakes.

Kirsty said: “I love running and have completed two marathons in the last few years, Brighton and London. I thought a walk over the South Downs would be a doddle, but it was certainly one of the most difficult challenges so far.

Halfway goal

“I’ve been raising money over the last few years for children with cancer as my very close friend’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer at the age of four in 2017. She is now fully recovered and living a very active life.

“My hardest point was getting to that halfway goal as it just seemed to take forever. Then we could start the countdown.”

Kirsty said that with her bank’s matched fundraising I will reach £500. Her fund-raising page can be seen here.

Karen Andrews

Karen Andrews is bank manager at Lloyds in Hastings. She is married to Phil and mother of son Joel, aged 16.

Karen said this was her fourth action challenge, and by far the hardest. As a breast cancer survivor herself – she had the disease eight years ago – she raised funds for Cancer Research.

Hot coal


She added: “My hardest point was at Brighton race course – with six miles still to go. I felt like I was walking on hot coal. With the bank’s matched giving fund – I will have raised £1115.”

Karen’s fund-raising page can be found here.

Michelle and Dan Hancock


Michelle and Dan Hancock have four children, Rebecca, Zoe, Gracie and Ella.

Michelle works in marketing at TFC in Heathfield and Dan is the MD at Pura Bathrooms, Crowborough.

The couple have never done anything like this before and the only exercise they tend to do is walk at the weekends on Ashdown Forest dragging along their two younger very reluctant daughters.

Michelle said: “We didn’t do much training as it takes so long to walk even ten miles.  We did this a few times and hoped we would be ok.


“It was the hardest thing we have ever done, and I think the hardest point was with only 5k to go, my legs were cramping and I was in so much pain that when a taxi pulled up and asked if I was ok and wanted a lift, I could have easily taken up that offer!

“We chose MIND as our charity as Zoe our second daughter has suffered with Mental Health illness since the age of 14 when she was diagnosed with anorexia. Things got worse from there on and she struggled through each day with very little support from any organisations.

Terrible time

“I will never forget the terrible time we went through as a family and it made us realise how just little support there was then. We now want to try and support a charity helping people with mental health issues, after all one in four of us will suffer at some point in our lives, and everyone should be able to get the help they need.

“Thankfully Zoe is now on the mend aged 22 and studying nursing at Kings College. Together Dan and I have raised £1300.”

Dan and Michelle’s fund-raising page can be found here.

Other Uckfield walkers

See how other Uckfield walkers fared on the South Coast Challenge here.

See also:

Times for Uckfield Carnival

Matron Heather retires after 31 years at Uckfield Hospital

Engineering works to take place on Uckfield Line this weekend

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