Hope House Children’s Hospices are appealing for people to join them on their annual Welshpool Canal Walk this September.

Last year’s Canal Walk raised more than £10,000 in memory of Teresa Thomas, the Hope House mum who organised the first walk in 2016.

Teresa and Dylan’s daughter Kiera (or Kiki, as she likes to be known) has been visiting Hope House since she was a baby. She was born with a condition called Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum, which affects her mobility and her ability to talk, meaning she needs 24/7 care.

“As you can guess, this diagnosis changed our world forever,” says Kiki’s dad Dylan. “But thankfully the paediatrician who diagnosed Kiera referred us to Hope House. We were accepted into the Hope House family and this was a moment that changed our lives for the better.”

Kiki’s visits to Hope House give her the chance to have fun with other children, playing, painting and making music. The visits also gave Teresa and Dylan a chance to rest and recharge their batteries.

Like many Hope House families, the Thomas’ were determined to ‘give something back’ and so in 2016 Teresa threw herself into organising the first ever Hope House Welshpool Canal Walk, inviting friends, family and the people of Welshpool to join her in an 8 mile sponsored walk along the canal to raise funds to keep Hope House’s vital services running. Together they raised an incredible £5000.

Sadly Teresa died suddenly in 2017 from a heart attack, aged just 42. The Welshpool Canal Walk that year was held in her memory and renamed “Walk for Tease”, as Teresa was affectionately known.

Since losing Teresa so suddenly, Dylan and Kiki’s lives have been turned upside down, but Hope House has been a constant source of support through their darkest days.

“Hope House has been the rock around which my family has grown,” Dylan says. “They have been there with us to help on our best day when Teresa and I got married, and now on our worst day and there is no one we’d trust more.”

“When Teresa died, Hope House not only looked after Kiki as they have always done, they also looked after me and took us in for almost two weeks between Teresa’s death and her funeral. It would have been difficult being at home with no one to talk to in the evenings when Kiki was in bed, but at Hope House there was, and is, always someone to talk to.”

The money raised over the last two walks has made a huge difference for families just like Dylan and Kiki, providing services such as bereavement counselling, days out for siblings and essential respite care.

Dylan and Kiki are hoping that lots of people will turn out again this September to walk in Teresa’s footsteps and make a difference for the children and families of Hope House, just as Teresa did.

“We must now be getting towards £20,000 that has been raised in Teresa’s memory,” says Dylan. “It would be wonderful if more people could join us again this year.”

The eight mile walk is free to enter and takes place on Saturday September 23rd.

The walk starts at 10am with registration opening at 9.30am. It starts from Tesco in Welshpool and continues 4 miles along the canal towpath to The Horseshoes Inn in Berriew and back again.

To join Dylan and Hope House at the Welshpool Canal Walk, you can sign up by visiting www.hopehouse.org.uk/events or calling the Fundraising office on 01691 671671.

Pictured: Dylan and Kiera Thomas