Elizabeth's Footprint

Natalia Spencer lost her five year old daughter, Elizabeth, in December last year, after she died suffering from a rare illness.

Elizabeth attended St James' School in Cheltenham, the same school as my son, Jenson, who started in reception in September.

Last November, Elizabeth had started to feel unwell, developing flu like symptoms. But the next day she collapsed and was rushed to hospital where she was put in an induced coma, which very sadly she was never to wake up from. Just 18 days later, on the 10th December 2015, she passed away. 

The cold like virus that Elizabeth had, triggered an extremely rare auto immune condition, which sent her body into overdrive to fight off the original virus. The condition is called Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis and it caused little Elizabeth's body to go into septic shock, shutting down her major organs and cutting off the blood supply to her limbs. Elizabeth was put on life support at Bristol Children's hospital. 

Now, Natalia wants to raise more than £100,000 for the Wallace and Gromit Grand Appeal children's charity, (the charity associated with Bristol Children's Hospital) by walking the entire length of Britain's coastline, (the coast was Elizabeth's favourite place). She sets off on Valentines Day at Durdle Dore, the last beach they visited together, and will walk 6,000 miles. She plans to finish ten months later on the 10th December, the first anniversary of Elizabeth's death.

And so it was on Tuesday evening that the launch night for Natalia's epic walk took place. I was asked if I could come along to photograph the event. It was a powerful evening. There were tears, laughter, smiles and sadness  as over 200 people listened to Natalia as she spoke about her plans, motivations and fundraising aims. 

Natalia was joined on stage by a host of special guest speakers including MP Alex Chalk's representative, Hannah Wright, award winning children's author Tracey Corderoy, Graham Harbord, an experienced GB coastline walker,  a charity representative from the Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal, global adventurer Jason Rawles as well as teachers and parents who were close to Elizabeth.

To view the gallery of photos live follow this link: http://elizabethsfootprint.com/launch-night/

For the Flickr feed use this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/138987934@N03/shares/bTeCif

To find out more about Elizabeth's story and Natalia's plans please go to www.elizabethsfootprint.com or to donate visit www.justgiving.com/Natalia-Spencer.