By Andy Hirst

Members at a Colne Valley gym are renowned for liking a challenge … so they’ve found themselves a big one.

Five members from Northern Fitness Gym in Linthwaite are to cover 315 miles on foot in just 13 days – on the other side of the world. They are doing it to raise money towards the fund to send seven-year-old Holmfirth girl Eden Smith to the USA for specialist cancer treatment.

They are jetting to Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean and will run and speed walk round the entire island famous for its volcanic mountains and dense tropical forest, covering the equivalent of a marathon every day in searing heat.

The team members are gym owner Kev Bower, Michelle Anderson, Ryan Whitaker, Craig Lee and Brent Lee, supported by gym members Vikki Whitaker and Adam Peel who will be driving a hired van and making sure the team has the medical and logistical support it needs.

READ MORE: How Eden Smith’s mum says being a mother is the best job in the world

Kev said: “We know we will be really up against it as the heat can get up to 27°C in Fiji at this time of year. It’s certainly not going to be a holiday – it will be full-on every step of the way.

“It’ll be down to sheer mental strength, digging in and getting it done. We’ll even be doing 10k on the day we arrive as we need to keep to a strict timetable to get round and we’ll be up and off by 6am every morning.

“The team can all blame me when the going gets tough as it was my idea. I’d cycled around New Zealand’s north island as I’m into these wacky kind of challenges and wanted somewhere that’s small enough to run around in under two weeks but a big enough challenge. That’s when I thought of Fiji.”

Eden Smith with dad Lee on her seventh birthday. Image by: SEAN DOYLE

It seems the group will end up in the media over there.

Kev added: “We don’t know of anyone else who has done this – going round the outskirts of the island at the rate of a marathon a day – and the Fiji High Commission in London says the press and TV news are eager to cover what we are doing once we get started.”

All seven who are going have self-funded the £2,500 cost per person.

Northern Fitness Gym ( has a great record of doing community-minded work and Kev is also chairman of community interest company #FORRONAN set up in memory of young Huddersfield Giants Academy rugby league player Ronan Costello who was fatally injured while playing the sport in June 2016 and died at the age of just 17. They raise money for local good causes and all the fundraising is now going to help Eden, including the Fiji trip.

Already 100 fundraisers from the gym are working hard to bring in £50,000 for the Eden appeal – the total is now around £44,000 – and the overall amount needed is now expected to be around £350,000 to send Eden to the USA several times.

READ MORE: Remembering the incredible Gardens of Eden sponsored walk

Eden, of Wooldale, is undergoing intensive treatment for a rare form of cancer and once she is in remission needs to go for specialist treatment in the USA which has a far greater chance of stopping the cancer returning than treatment available here.

The Northern Gym group are flying to Fiji on May 24, will begin the challenge on May 27 and will finish it on June 10 before flying home the next day.

Halifax company Eclipse Energy has provided £3,000 to give the fundraising a big boost. The company specialises in renewable energy solutions such as solar panels and air source heat pumps.

Eden was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma in April 2021, a rare and aggressive childhood cancer that has a 40% to 50% chance of long-term survival at diagnosis and affects fewer than 100 children in the UK every year. Scans and tests showed the cancer was located in seven places around Eden’s body.

Eden when she went back to visit her school on her seventh birthday. Image by: SEAN DOYLE

She has completed gruelling chemotherapy, undergone a major operation and had stem cell treatment and radiotherapy with immunotherapy to follow in the coming months. To prevent the cancer returning Eden will then need Bivalent Vaccine treatment which is now only available in New York and the earliest she’d probably be able to go would be this summer.

READ MORE: Eden’s pink birthday was just amazing!

She is now back at Scholes Junior and Infant School and plans to be back at swimming lessons in the coming weeks.

On May 16 she goes into hospital for 10 days to start her immunotherapy treatment.

Anyone who wants to sponsor the Northern Fitness Fiji Challenge should go to

* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.