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New Milton town councillor Neil Tungate will complete the two walks in aid of Oakhaven Hospice which cared for his late wife Betty

A New Milton town councillor is preparing to complete two walks, at home and abroad, to raise funds for the hospice that cared for his late wife.

People are invited to sponsor Neil Tungate as he takes part in The Oakhaven Walk on 18th May – about a month after walking one of the Caminos in Spain.

He is carrying out both of the challenges in memory of his wife Betty, who died in November 2022 following a four-year battle with cancer.

Neil and Betty Tungate in Patagonia, Chile, in March 2018 - their last long-haul holiday before Betty's diagnosis
Neil and Betty Tungate in Patagonia, Chile, in March 2018 - their last long-haul holiday before Betty's diagnosis

The online JustGiving page specifically for Neil’s 14-mile trek from Mudeford to Oakhaven’s Pennington base asks donators to also consider his Spanish trek.

Keen to give something back to the palliative care hospice for the support it gave to Betty and himself, he said: “Oakhaven Hospice was a blessing for us both throughout her last year.

“I cannot praise the staff highly enough, everyone with whom we had contact cared deeply about making things easier for us both.”

Following a kidney cancer diagnosis in autumn 2018, Betty quickly had the organ removed at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

But the couple discovered the illness had returned two years later and, after oncology made her very ill, pills helped hold it at bay despite bad side effects.

These stopped working by early 2022, and Oakhaven took over, providing home care until Betty went into the hospice for her final two weeks.

“That home care is so valuable to a couple, it allows the cancer patient to retain their dignity and the partner to continue doing what a partner does in the home,” Neil continued.

“I sometimes think that people don't realise how Oakhaven care can help all the family in time of need.”

Neil is entering the charity’s event with his and Betty’s friend, Jane Loveless, who lost her husband to cancer about 12 years ago.

But first, in mid-April he will fly out to walk the Inglés covering 120km from Ferrol on Spain’s north coast to Santiago de Compostela.

Neil’s training for the challenges will include joining Jane on walks of up to about 20km over a period of weeks, as well as cycling.

“I accept that it will be hard, but it will be worth it to help Oakhaven continue to help other people like Betty and me,” he said.

Paying tribute to his wife, he added: “Betty always had a wonderful smile, even during her stay at Oakhaven her face would light up when a friend arrived.”

Neil’s JustGiving page can be found at tinyurl.com/bdh7jc9y

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