Year-long Challenge in memory of her brother

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In the quiet moments of reflection, with time shared with family and friends, there’s a sense of loss for Julie Smith. Her brother, Mark Bamforth, a vibrant soul who touched the lives of many, died on 5 September 2023, aged 56.

Mark, from Milton, was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2019. His family said that he faced each setback with courage and determination despite the relentless progression of the disease. He continued to embrace life fully, cherishing every moment with his beloved wife Helen and their children. Helen shared:

“Mark was a kind and loyal husband and a very caring Dad to his two children, Saffron and Elliott. He was a Bank Manager for most of his lifelong, 40 year career with Barclays and even looked after Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, as a customer for a while. He helped fundraise for the Charity and encouraged and helped set up some friends/business contacts to fundraise through a Corporate Scheme, just in the last two years of his life.”

Throughout his four-year battle, Mark’s love for sports and outdoor adventures remained strong. From brisk walks to exhilarating bike rides, he revelled in the joy of movement and the beauty of nature. Golf also held a special place in his heart, illustrating his competitive edge and passion for the game. Julie shared:

“I find it really hard to say enough about how amazing Mark was. It’s as if no words or explanation is big enough, because he truly was just such an amazing person, who had a positive effect on so many lives.

Man smiling at camera with horse

Losing Mark has left a hole in all of our lives that will never be filled, but we all feel so lucky to have known him and loved him and to have been loved back by him.”

As Julie reminisced about her brother, she recalled his wilful spirit and boundless generosity. It’s no surprise that Julie, inspired by his legacy, has embarked on a year-long Ultra Challenge in his memory.

During 2024, Julie will walk over 500km across ten remarkable adventures. From the London Winter Walk to the South Coast Challenge, Julie’s journey is a celebration of her brother, Mark’s legacy.

Her challenges aren’t just about covering distance- it’s about making a difference in the lives of others. Julie has chosen Arthur Rank Hospice Charity as, during his final days, the Charity provided invaluable support to Mark, Helen, and their family, offering comfort, care, and compassion when they needed it most. Helen explained:

The Hospice at Home Team helped us care for Mark in the last two weeks of his life. They were there to help organise all the things we needed in conjunction with the Community Nurse Team; like the hospital bed, medication and support with personal care for three times a day for Mark. They were also able to provide someone to sit with him overnight to give us a break. We took this offer up once, which was helpful, just to get some proper sleep.

Someone from Arthur Rank Hospice Charity would call every day just to check in with us, to see how things were, and if we needed anything. This was helpful in the early days, as it was a lot to take in, and we would forget sometimes what was happening and when.

In the final couple of days a Nurse came to set up all the end of life care and meds etc. and explained very respectfully what would happen to Mark and how he would pass away. This was really useful for us as we really did not know what to expect.”

When speaking to Julie about creating her challenge and setting a fundraising goal she told the Fundraising Team:

“All families around the UK are experiencing tough times financially, so I would encourage anyone to set a small and realistic financial target, so as to avoid disappointment. My target is large, because my challenge is large and ongoing throughout the year. I have chosen a challenge that will make a difference and reflect Mark’s energy and is something I feel will honour his memory well.

I would say for anyone going through grief, I would recommend you choose something [to take part in]- no matter how big or small, because I have found that having this planned makes me feel close to Mark – I am talking about him all of the time and taking him with me on my activities as he is printed on my t-shirts.

Also, you could invite people to join you, as they too have lost someone that means a lot to them and doing it together can make the experience even more fulfilling.”

Julie will be joined by Mark’s loved ones on several of her challenges including Mark’s wife Helen and their cousin Sam and his wife Bonny at the Ultra Easter 50km.

You can donated to Julie’s Justgiving Page in memory of Mark here:

If you would like to take part in an Ultra Challenge for Arthur Rank Hospice Charity please visit or contact our Community Fundraising Team who will be happy to support you through the process. Email or call 01223 675888.