Annual walk inspired by heart attacks of three Saints fans has ceased

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An annual walking event which has raised £180,000 for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) over 14 years has held its last event, organisers have announced.

The Saints with Heart walk began in 2002 after Saints fans Bob Stainsby, Bob Leach and Mark Coleman all suffered heart attacks a few months apart.

In the space of a few weeks, 30 took part in a walk and raised £4,000 for the BHF.

The event became annual and eventually raised a total of more than £180,000. In its peak year, 100 walkers raised £20,000.

However, support has dwindled recently and organiser Paul Flatt declared April’s edition the last.

He said: “Having consulted with those who helped found and develop Saints with Heart over the past 14 years, we have decided that it is now time to wind up our efforts, and with immediate effect Saints with Heart is now just another part of the history of our Club and the British Heart Foundation.

“There are lots of reasons, but is clear that support and participation has declined in recent years. We will stop now, before we become an embarrassment.”

However, although agreeing that now was the tiem to stop, several posters on the Come on You Saints fans forum were more upbeat.

Mr Stainsby said: “I am proud to be a Saint, proud to have done my little bit to help this great effort, and proud of all associated with Saints with Heart.”

Mr Flatt said he had fond memories of the annual events.

The first fund raising effort was a sponsored walk to Kislingbury across the fields from Franklin’s Gardens.

Mr Flatt said: “Most of the walkers completed their duties but we believe several of that first group may still be stuck in the Olde Red Lion. The beer that day was very good!”

Mr Flatt said now seemed the right time to bring things to a close.

He said: “On Monday, I got an email from Rich Lindsley, who kicked all this off. He just said, ‘We did good. It’s someone else’s turn’.

“That’s a pretty good way to stop.”