Harrold residents step out in support of Bedfordshire school girl’s cancer fight

Rachel Spencer

Supporters of a children’s cancer and leukaemia fund are walking a million steps to raise money for childhood cancer research.

Harrold Mum, Hannah Spencer set up ‘Rachel’s Rainbow Dashers’ with friend Annie Abbatt after her daughter’s battle with a rare form of leukaemia.

The fund forms part of the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group, a leading national charity for childhood cancers.

Rachel Spencer was four when she was diagnosed with Philadelphia positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (Ph+ALL) in 2019.

Hannah was “utterly shocked” after witnessing what children with cancer go through.

She said: “There are only a few types of chemotherapy drug that have been specifically developed for childhood cancer and many of those used regularly were first used over 40 years ago.”

The Rainbow Dashers hope to change this by getting out, getting active and walking 16,400 steps a day throughout April and May to meet their million marker.

You can find their JustGiving page here.

So far, they’ve raised over £21,000 and completed 8.5million steps in two weeks – the equivalent of walking from London to Delhi.

Despite blisters and bad backs, people are powering through.

Hannah said: “We just think of Rachel every time we are struggling, and we keep going.”

They originally planned 12 marathon challenges in 12 months. But, when Covid hit that “got put on the back-burner”.

Rachel and her mum Hannah

Annie, whose daughter Phoebe is best friends with Rachel said: “we were trying to do something that felt like a real challenge but people could do if we were in lockdown or the children were at home.”

Annie described it as “hard work” but said: “You can’t just fall behind, because if you have a day where you do a low amount, you have to make up so many on the other days.”

Hannah paid tribute to supporters from Harrold and elsewhere saying: “It’s such a great community, loads of people have supported us. People have just been really generous, it’s really lovely.”

Annie added: “Everyone just loves Rachel and they wanted to do something to help.”

Hannah credited her daughter’s ‘immense bravery’ and for taking “everything in her stride”. At times she was unable to walk and lost a large part of a ‘normal’ childhood.’

Rachel has another year of maintenance to go but is doing really well.

Having witnessed the pain of other families, Hannah hopes that “in the future children won’t have to suffer as Rachel has.” You can find out more about Rachel’s Rainbow Dashers at their Just Giving page or buy merchandise to support their fundraising here.

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