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Belfast couple is stepping up to the challenge for this year’s Mournes HACK challenge


Natasha Walker and her fiancé Marcus Lowe from Belfast are going the extra mile to help end cruelty to children, by taking part in this year’s NSPCC HACK (Hike Against Cruelty to Kids) sponsored by GO Outdoors.

The HACK is on 14 September, and will be held again this year in the stunning Mourne Mountains. The challenge will appeal to novices through to seasoned walkers, and with 14 or 20 mile routes available there is something to suit all adventurous spirits.

Signing up was an easy choice for the pair, both 21, as Natasha also volunteers for NSPCC’s ChildLine Schools Service. She said “I decided to do the HACK because I knew it would be challenging. I am always keen to try new things and I thought this opportunity would be ideal!” Marcus continued, “I’m walking the HACK to give my fiancée Natasha support, but not only that, I think the work that the NSPCC do is vital and it’s really important that they get support they deserve to continue their hard work.”

Talking about her training regime, Natasha continued, “I already attend the gym on a regular basis, so hopefully it shouldn’t be too much of a step up! But alongside that Marcus and I will also be out walking and following various routes in the Belfast Castle grounds to get in as much training as possible. Marcus is also running the Belfast 2014 marathon for NSPCC, so it will be great preparation for him!”

As a volunteer, Natasha has personal reasons for taking on the HACK, and knows how crucial the NSPCC is for the children and families who need it. She said, “The NSPCC is so important because it aims to ensure that every single child knows about the different types of abuse and where to get help if they need it. This is vital in order to make sure that children know what their rights are and that abuse is never their fault.”

Encouraging people to step up to the challenge, Marcus said, “The NSPCC is a really worthwhile cause and through taking on the HACK we can make sure they can continue to help young people. I would encourage everyone to do the HACK; I think it will be a great way to meet new people and, most importantly, it will be an amazing achievement to have participated in and completed a 14 or 20mile walk for such a worthwhile cause.”

NSPCC community fundraising manager Fionnuala Savage said, “The Mournes HACK is such a great event, with hundreds of walkers taking part each year. It’s definitely a physical challenge, but with training and the support on the day it’s sure to be a fantastic experience for everyone involved. I would like to thank all of our walkers already signed up for taking part and fundraising for such a worthwhile cause, and I wish everyone the best of luck for their training and on the day.

“I’d like to encourage everyone in Belfast to consider signing up for the Mournes HACK. The day promises to be lots of fun and hard work but, most importantly, you’ll help us raise much needed funds so we can continue to deliver NSPCC services across Northern Ireland.  Why not sign up with a group of friends or colleagues and make it a real team challenge?”

Head of marketing at GO Outdoors, Russel Bennett, said: “Our new charity partnership with the NSPCC is very important to us and we are proud to be supporting and taking part in this wonderful series of walking challenges.

“It’s great that so many people are already getting behind the Mournes HACK and we’d love even more people to register, so we can raise as much as possible to help improve the lives of vulnerable children across the UK.  With four locations to choose from, the HACK is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and challenge seekers alike.”

The Mournes HACK is open to over 18s and the registration fee is £10 for the 14 mile route and £20 for the 20 mile route. For further details, online registrations and payments, or to volunteer for the event, please log on to www.nspcc.org.uk/mourneshack or contact the Northern Ireland NSPCC fundraising office on 028 90 351135 or email hackni@nspcc.org.uk. The final registration date is Friday 6 September 2013.

Image: Clare Galbraith, Elizabeth Whiteside and Katherine Keenan from the NSPCC out on a reccee ahead of the Mournes HACK 2013.

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