Taking on Hadrian’s wall for Borne: Fran’s challenge

19-year-old Frances is taking on her biggest physical challenge so far. For the last few weeks, Fran has been training to hike to Hadrian’s wall – and raise money for Borne’s premature birth research.

We spoke to her about why she’s doing the challenge. To support her, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/frances-robinson220.

Hi Fran! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am currently on a gap year, after finishing my A Levels, exploring what I want to do next – maybe join the Armed Forces or pursue something in medicine.

I am very active person: I swim, I cycle, and I recently got into walking. I used to hate it as a child, but my parents convinced me otherwise by bringing me to places, like the French Alps, with amazing countryside walks.

I wanted to challenge myself during my gap year, so I settled on a little hike to Hadrian’s wall in aid of Borne.

What does the challenge entail?

Walking 84 miles from Carlisle to Newcastle, with all my hiking and camping gear, in just under a week! The route may seem straightforward, but I will carry all my gear – tent, sleeping bad, all of my food and cooking equipment. My bag will weigh around 10-15 kgs. I hope to complete the challenge in 4 days.

© Phil Champion

Why did you decide to support Borne?

My twin brother and I were born prematurely, 6 weeks early. My brother had a sticky lung. He was underdeveloped. I was 2 pounds under the national average weight. We were lucky compared to other premature babies.

Fran and her twin brother were born 6 weeks too soon

I came across Borne when Jason Fox posted about premature birth on World Prematurity Day. My father and I are big fans of “SAS: Who Dares Wins”.

I was shocked to hear that Jason was a premature baby himself. He inspired me to take up this challenge and show that preterm babies, like Jason and myself, can overcome the odds. 

I also have knee problems and I may need to undergo surgery at some point. This walk gives me something to work for and prove myself as I raise awareness for one of my new favourite charities!

Fran and Jason Fox at a book signing

What do your parents think?

My parents think I’m mad! Seriously, they are happy that I am out and about. They trust that I can do this. I am putting the lessons they taught me about smart walking to good use.

The fact that I am raising money for a cause that we have experienced ourselves reassures them too. In any case, they know they won’t change my mind!

What will be the most challenging?

The weather. I can walk in anything – cold, heat or rain. But if it’s really windy, it’s not the most enjoyable hike. I’ll be weighed down by my gear but, on the inclines or descents, getting caught by the strongest of winds can be unsettling.

The most fun?

The whole thing is going to be fun! There will be moments where I think “why am I doing this”. But when I get to the end, having looked after myself in these conditions, I will be happy. And I can’t wait to see Hadrian’s Wall for the first time!

What do you hope you will help Borne achieve?

I hope I can help with getting the message out more. Preterm birth is such a big risk, yet it doesn’t get enough air time. If you get things right at the beginning of life, you get better chances.

Bringing a baby into the world should be a happy occasion. I hope that I can help mums who are at risk of preterm birth have long and healthy pregnancies.

One last word?

I am dead excited. Bring it on!

Fran will kick off her walk to Hadrian’s Wall on 28 May.

Follow her progress on Instagram at @charityfran_

Contribute to her JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/frances-robinson220