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North East Families will be joined by award winning author Bill Bryson for a special walking tour around an exclusive Northumberland estate, to raise money for a children’s cancer charity.

The Blagdon Estate, near Stannington, will be opening its gates to the public as part of a charity event to raise money for the North of England Children’s Cancer Research (NECCR).

The charity’s Big Walk event takes place on Saturday 17th September, as part of Children’s Cancer Awareness Month.

Fundraisers can explore Blagdon’s grounds – which are normally closed to the public – on the guided six mile walk, taking in the Northumberland Cheese Factory and Milkhope Centre for refreshments along the way. As a patron of the NECCR, author Bill Bryson has also agreed to a special book signing and Q&A session, before joining the walkers on their tour across the estate.

Walkers this year will include Field Service Engineer Kim Hodkinson, his wife Julia and their children Daisy and Tyla. In April 2013 at age five Tyla was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

Kim Hodkinson said: “This year’s Big Walk is a particularly special day for our family as it’s the first event since Tyla completed his treatment back in July. Three generations of the family will be taking part this year – the first year Tyla has been able to walk unaided, after previously taking part in the walk in an assisted pushchair.

“It’s research funded by organisations such as the NECCR that has saved my little boy’s life. We have seen first-hand the impact that cancer can have on a child and the rest of the family and want to make a positive difference by donating to research.”

Over the past 35 years, the NECCR has raised over £30 million and has helped to establish the North East as world-leaders in childhood cancer research.

Chris Peacock, chairman of the NECCR, said: “The Big Walk is always a wonderful event and we are extremely grateful to the Blagdon Estate for allowing us to help us raise money for the NECCR in such beautiful surroundings.

“We’re also looking forward to welcoming Bill Bryson back to the north east for the fourth year running. He is a valuable supporter of the work we do and we’re thrilled he’s coming along to take part in this year’s Big Walk.

“As September is annual Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we’re hoping people will be especially generous with their donations.

“While research over the past three decades has dramatically reduced the number of deaths from childhood cancer, it is still the number one cause of non-accidental death in young children across the UK. Each year around 120 children and young people are newly diagnosed with cancer in the North East, and we desperately need more funding into research to find a cure for this terrible disease.”

Bob Downer, Chief Executive of Blagdon Estate said “Blagdon Estate has been in the same family ownership since 1700. The Estate is a family run business with residential, commercial and agricultural properties and plays host to clubs, organisations and charities throughout the year.”

“The Estate is normally private but we are happy to welcome back North of England Children’s Cancer Research for their 5th Annual Charity walk through the grounds.”

The Blagdon Estate has been owned by the same family since 1700 with the viscounts being named Matthew for more than 300 years.

Entry to the Big Walk is £10 for adults, £5 for children under 16, and children under 10 can take part for free. Well behaved dogs on a lead are also welcome to take part. There is no minimum sponsorship, but all funds will go towards researching better treatments for childhood cancers and could help save the lives of children and young people stricken by the illness.

North of England Children’s Cancer Research is a Newcastle based children’s charity, founded by families effected by childhood cancer. The charity has raised over £30 million for research into better treatments for children’s cancer.

To find out more or to make a donation, please call 07808 349570 or email

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