From the Archives: Breast cancer walkers celebrate Moonwalk anniversary

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September 2001. Prince Charles meets Moonwalkers at Highgrove House, with Eunice Salmon, left, and Nina Barough, right

From The Archives with Link founding publisher Roger Ogle

London’s Moonwalk marathon on Saturday 13 May will be the twentieth year of the world famous event, and former West Swindon resident Eunice Salmon has taken part in every one of them.

From the start Link magazine was a spur for Eunice, who now lives in Purton, to bring together a team of volunteers to organise women and a sprinkling of blokes to take part in the marathon through the streets of the capital.

The idea for an overnight walk came to Moonwalk founder Nina Barough who had a dream to walk the 1996 New York marathon with a group of women in their bras in aid of breast cancer. The £25,000 raised inspired Nina to organise a similar outing on the night before the 1997 London marathon.

“I was 37 and had been thinking of doing a marathon and saw an article about a walking marathon supporting breast cancer,” said Eunice. “I had benign lumps when I was eighteen but had recently been to a school reunion and was told a classmate had died from breast cancer, it was a jolt and gave me a reason to take part.

“At first I wasn’t sure about walking in a bra and contacted Nina; she said think of the bra as a decorated garment and make a statement for the cause. It’s amazing how women have embraced the idea and taken to the Moonwalk movement and raised about £113 million for women’s cancer related charities in the last 19 years.”

After walking on her own, Eunice joined the Swindon branch of Breakthrough Breast Cancer run by the late Shirley Garman and blames Link magazine for helping to turn Swindon into a walking powerhouse.

“The Link carried a story about the first Moonwalk and asked if I was going to do another, and what about advertising for other women to join me?,” said Eunice. “I thought about five would step forward; a few weeks later 35 came to my house to find out more. It was a shock to realise that something big was about to happen.”

The group decided to call themselves Swindon Twin Peaks and started to organise transport as the numbers who wanted to take part kept growing. One hundred travelled to London in 1998 rising to 200 walkers in 2001.

The Magic Roundabout Dougal decorated bra became a well known sight on the Moonwalk as Swindon was the largest town represented for several years.

The Swindon Twin Peaks group continues to organise training walks for fitness, but participants now organise their own transport if they enter the Moonwalk which still attracts up to 17,000 people annually.  Eunice said former Breakthrough Breast Cancer branch chair Shirley Garman was the inspiration for so much of the activity to raise money for breast cancer research in the late 1990s.

“When I got involved in the Moonwalk, she told me ‘it doesn’t matter if you don’t raise any money, you’ll be raising awareness.’

“When she started the branch she set a target for Swindon women to raise £1 million for Breakthrough (rebranded Breast Cancer Now). The network she created is still very active and I hope the last £76,550 can be achieved by 2019 which is the tenth anniversary of her death from breast cancer.”

“For me and so many other women who participate, it is a positive way of fighting back.”

Find out about The Moonwalk at

www.walkthewalk.org

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