Exmoor Ramble legacy for legendary fundraiser as he battles terminal cancer
- Credit: NDH
The legendary organiser of the Exmoor Ramble has thanked all those who made the last one of his lifetime the best ever.
Ivan Huxtable is battling terminal cancer and was determined the October event would go ahead in its 29th year as it was probably the last one he would see.
It was a huge success and raised a record-breaking £14,000 for North Devon Hospice, which is now caring for Ivan.
During his life he has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for cancer charities and the hospice.
The Exmoor Ramble had become hugely popular as Ivan took groups of walkers across the moor to show them some of its best beauty spots and hidden secrets.
The plan for 2020 had been for another mass-participation walk, expertly plotted by Ivan after his lifetime of knowledge discovering the most tucked away beauty spots on offer.
However, coronavirus restrictions meant that wasn’t possible. Instead, smaller groups of walkers took to the moor last autumn, to take on the Ramble in solidarity with Ivan. In total, more than 300 people trekked the route.
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Ivan said: “It was lovely to see it go ahead, albeit slightly different to what we had planned.
“It was also nice that so many people took part on so many different weekends, and that we raised the most we’ve ever done.”
The record-breaking total was in no small part down the Exmoor community rallying around and Ivan was keen to thank those who made it all possible.
He said: “I want to say a big thank you to my wife Edna and my sons, Brian and Paul. Also huge thanks to the Exmoor Ramble organising team including Paul Weeks, Les Parker, Chris Ford, John Eastman, Andrew Woollacott, Andrew Hawkins and Ali Hunt from North Devon Hospice.
“I am so grateful to the many, many supporters for the donations which came in, to make this the most successful Exmoor Ramble ever.”
Ivan’s life of fundraising was inspired by the loss of his sister to leukaemia, which came just six months after losing their father in a tragic farming accident in 1947.
More than £100,000 has been raised for CLIC Sargent in that time, a cause which remains close to Ivan’s heart after his own initial diagnosis with leukaemia 15 years ago.
The number of charities to have benefitted has grown over the years, significantly North Devon Hospice, who are now caring for Ivan after all his years of dedication.
Ivan is North Devon born and bred. He is one of Exmoor’s best-known characters, which is why his charity walks have been so popular for so long.
His sons, Brian and Paul, helped to make sure this year’s Exmoor Ramble went ahead, no matter what.
“We had our orders from dad!” they said.
“Despite everything, he was determined the event would happen this year and we were so grateful that people took part, even though we couldn’t do it all together.
“It was certainly poignant, because we know this is realistically going to be the last one which Dad sees, but we will carry on the legacy for him.”
Ivan added: “We’ve got the date for this year’s walk already in the calendar, on September 25. It’s important to get that in, because it will be the 30th anniversary of the Exmoor Ramble.
“I probably won’t be there, of course, but my sons and everyone else who help organise it will do a grand job.”
Ali Hunt, from the Hospice, said that Ivan is one of the area’s true legends: “I’ve known Ivan as long as I’ve been involved with North Devon Hospice, which is more than 20 years. You could not wish to meet a nicer man, who has such a sharp wit and the most generous spirit.
“What he has done for charity over the years, most notably the hospice, is simply incredible.
“It is such sad news about Ivan’s health, but despite his condition I know he was determined to make this year’s event happen. Unsurprisingly, he succeeded and pulled it off, raising a record-breaking amount. That says all you need to know about this wonderful man.”