Although the children enjoy the activities, I have benefited so much from being able to talk to other parents and access support for me.

Janine - Thurrock

It is such a warm and friendly place and we can sit and relax with a coffee knowing both children are so happy - we never get a chance to do this anywhere else.

Rachel - Brentwood

Wednesday 19th July 2017

Star trekker Joy

Joy Baker took part in the Thames Bridges Challenge last year with her husband Ian and relished the opportunity to give to her local community.

"I've known about SNAP since it began in 1994 as I know the charity's founder, Hilary Needham. I've seen at close range the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs and it's inspiring to see the way SNAP has grown into the incredible charity it is today," said Joy.

"I'm usually more of a box sets and sofa kind of person, but I decided that myself – and my husband – needed to get some low-impact exercise, and SNAP was the obvious choice to benefit from our efforts. I love London and the river, so trekking the 25k across the capital's famous bridges was just right for us."

And once Joy had decided on her challenge she set about training and found her exercising stride.

"I just put on my trainers, downloaded an audio book to my phone and walked out the front door. I listened to the whole of Steve Jobs' (Apple boss) biography while I was training, so I exercised my mind as well as my body. The walk organisers sent me a whole pack of information about training, and as long as you walk regularly at whatever pace suits you and gradually increase the distance the training is fine. My husband didn't train! He completed the walk, but hurt a lot the next day."

"On the actual event day the training was great fun. There is lots of music and group warm-ups to keep you occupied at the start. You get a great sense of taking part in a community event and because you're walking, rather than running, you can chat to people you meet along the way. It was really pretty walking over all the bridges and we were lucky with the sun. There's a halfway stop for refreshments and at the end there was a reception on a boat on the Thames."

Joy was proud of her achievement – and medal – and was also delighted to have raised £1,151 for SNAP.

"I started a joint Just Giving page with Ian and just wrote a bit about SNAP and then shared this page on Facebook, as well as printing off a sponsor sheet for work. I was surprised by the number of people who were aware of SNAP's great work or knew a family that had been supported. I think being sponsored made me less likely to chicken out, and helped me to discipline myself for training."

"I know the way the staff work above and beyond to get value for every pound donated. It's something Essex can be really proud of, the way a group of passionate parents saw there was a need 23 years ago, and set about doing something to support other parents going through the same thing."