SIXTY members of an Essex-based running club took on a brutal 62-mile trek over the undulating terrain of the Lake District in memory of their late friend – and raised nearly £33,000 for charity.

Fundraising heroes from Leigh-on-Sea Striders (LOSS) set off on their epic five-day hike on Sunday, June 12, and finished on Thursday, June 16.

The walk was in memory of Stephanie Simpson, a dear friend and former LOSS member who passed away in an accident two years ago. The group all wore specially-made purple tops with her name on the front, and tagged social media updates for the trek with #bemoresteph

So far they have raised £17,658 for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), which works to prevent sudden cardiac deaths in younger people.

It will be donated to the James Patterson Memorial Fund at CRY and will fund a heart-screening day for 100 people in the Southend area.

They have also collected £15,293 towards their £17,500 target for oncology and stroke services at Southend Hospital, part of the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

And boy did they earn every penny as the route included 19,000 feet of ascent over some of England’s highest peaks like Helvellyn, Scafell Pike and Skiddaw mountains.

Leigh-on-Sea Striders members stopped to pose for a group shot during their 62-mile trek through the Lake District

The club have raised over £400,000 for charities over the past two decades and voted for the two good causes that would benefit this time around.

Club member Jo Hall, whose event warm-up included countless steps up the stairs at Leigh railway station, revealed they had also collected about another £30,000 in offline donations to be split between the two causes in addition to the JustGiving totals.

She added: “We were lucky to see the Lake District at its best in all conditions – be it sun, wind, rain, or all three on one of the days!

“But the best part was the people involved, pushing themselves way outside their physical and emotional comfort zones, helping and encouraging each other.

“We didn’t just raise a fantastic amount for our charities, but we did it in the lasting memory of our friend Stephanie, whose positivity, enthusiasm and beautiful smile will always be remembered.”

You can donate to CRY by clicking here, and to Southend Hospital by clicking here.