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Over 30 years and £300,000 later, Deborah’s ‘one-off’ hospice walk is back again

'I always say volunteering keeps me out of trouble. It's not a big deal to give up a couple of hours'

Walk organiser and hospice volunteer Deborah Kennedy with Laura Rowntree, hospice fundraising officer

A Newry woman who organised her first Southern Area Hospice walk as a “one-off” event is preparing to hold it for the 31st year.

Deborah Kennedy was inspired to support her local hospice after a relative was cared for there.

At the time it was only a six-bed unit but has expanded over the years and now has 14 bedrooms as well as outpatient clinics and a range of other services including a counselling and therapy centre.

Deborah (69), who has two children and six grandchildren, has also volunteered in the hospice shop in Newry for 25 years and, up until Covid struck, on the hospice reception desk.

She said: “I always say volunteering keeps me out of trouble. It’s not a big deal to give up a couple of hours.

“Nobody knows when they are going to need the hospice.

“I have always had good support and there is a great bunch of people who turn up year after year.

“I am looking forward to welcoming familiar and new faces.”

This year’s Towpath Walk will take place on Sunday, June 19, and over the years it has raised more than £300,00 for the hospice’s services.

People are invited to take part in the six-mile walking challenge which sets off from the Basin Walk carpark (outside Cue Club) in the town at 12 noon.

It continues out along the Newry towpath as far as Steenson’s Bridge and back again, with walkers receiving some refreshments at the halfway point before turning to head back to the Cue Cub.

Free parking is available at the starting point.

All walkers must pre-register if they would like to take part, as there will be no registration on the day.

Registration is free but each person is asked to raise a minimum of £30. Each walker will receive a finishing Towpath Walk medal, which has been sponsored again this year by Around Noon.

To register, visit or phone fundraising officer Laura Rowntree on 028 3026 7711.

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