Heel to Heal: Walking Back to Health

May 19, 2022

So how do you plan to celebrate The Jubilee? Maybe with a street party or celebrating with friends and family? Celebrations for one woman, Sarah Dennis, will be slightly different to the norm. She is setting off Jubilee week from Hunstanton to walk along The Norfolk and Suffolk Coast Paths to Felixstowe. A distance of around 150 miles.

Sarah suffers from arthritis and along her journey she not only hopes to increase awareness of the condition, but also raise funds for Sunbeams, a haven for children and young people with Autism based in Great Yarmouth.

“I decided to walk in an effort to heal myself through connecting to nature,” said Sarah. “Having travelled 10 years ago and spent time with various tribes, shamans would often ask me ‘where do you come from?’ The answer they were looking for was not ‘England,’ they wanted to know what landscape I was from – and I am from the coast.”

Sarah Dennis Heel To Heal Coastal Path Pilgrimage 5

Sarah is originally from Hemsby and moved to the West Midlands over 14 years ago. Having moved inland, she started to become unwell. At the age of 36 she was diagnosed with arthritis. She is now 48 and has two types of arthritis as well as other autoimmune conditions. To improve her symptoms, she is returning back to the coast to find healing. The shamans of the tribe said often we become unwell when we move away from the land in which we were brought up. Sarah began to notice that when doing weekend walks and camping out that her conditions started to improve.

Sarah has always led a healthy life and has in fact been a Yoga Teacher for the last nine years, but since lockdown in March 2020 she has been really at the mercy of her symptoms. One of her aims is to raise awareness of arthritis as she walks.

“I am so grateful to be able to walk and for the freedom that it gives me,” she said. “When I was newly diagnosed, I found it very painful to walk any distance at all. Now most of the pain is in my hands.

“It is a chronic disease that is not just about sore joints. It robs you of the person that you are because you feel trapped inside your body. Walking is an expression of freedom and I am so extremely grateful to be able to do this.”

This is not only a wellness mission, but one of positivity. Each day, Sarah will write a message of positivity on a pebble and leave it in the area for somebody to find and keep. She wants to spread words of encouragement and support to people along the way.

Sunbeams ChildrenThe third part of the story is that Sarah is walking for a local charity, Sunbeams, a haven for children and young people with Autism based in Great Yarmouth.

This local charity was founded by Sarah’s mum, Monica Bates. The staff have provided support, advice and care for countless children, young carers and families over the last nine years.

Sarah would like to raise enough money to buy a defibrillator for the centre, which is about £1,500. This is equivalent to a donation of £10 for every mile Sarah walks.

This is a journey of hope, healing, and helping others. Sarah would love it if you could say hello, give her a wave along the way, maybe walk a few steps with her and connect with her online.

If you would like to support Sarah and her chosen charity, please visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/heeltoheal.

If you’d like to learn more about Sunbeams, please visit www.sunbeamsplay.org.uk.

You can follow Sarah on her journey as she will be sharing videos and posts on her Facebook Page and on Instagram. If you find one of her pebbles, take a photo and post it on www.instagram.com/positivitypebbles mentioning where you found it.