Blisters and unwanted 'diversions' fail to stop Clare campaigners from walking 22 miles
A group of campaigners who want medicinal cannabis prescribed on the NHS completed a 22-mile walk from Bury St Edmunds to Clare on Sunday to highlight their cause.
Campaigners came from a variety of ages - the youngest being Lilia Bennet, 12 - and backgrounds and walked in groups of six people, following current government guidelines.
Another group of walkers joined at Somerton and walked the remainder to Clare.
The walk was inspired by the problems faced by Indie-Rose Clarry, six, of Clare, who has Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy and was led by Giles Bryant of World Healing Project and Indie's mum.
Despite having a prescription for medicinal cannabis from a UK doctor, and after three years of successful use of this natural plant her parents Ant Clarry and Tannine Montgomery still cannot get her medicine on the NHS.
Tannine sustained horrific blisters whilst walking the 22 mile route, but courageously finished.
She said: "Over a year ago we meet with Heath Secretary Matt Hancock who promised access to medical cannabis via the normal route.
"However, we still have no access to this medication, and this is causing my family and many others to be left suffering with seizures, anxiety, pain and the only access coming from costly private prescriptions.
"The NICE guidelines state that a decision on prescribing medical cannabis must be made by the clinicians and patients or their careers.
"These guidelines are not being followed. It’s clear after using cannabis oil successfully with Indie for three years (no ambulance call outs, rescue medication or pharmaceutical drugs) she is able to live her best quality of life.
"Currently without this medication she’s deteriorating and seizures have become daily, compared to four a month when using medical cannabis.
"Indie’s life has been put at risk because of the lack of NHS doctors willing to prescribe such a life changing medication.
"I would urge anyone who would like to see this problem resolved to write to Matt Hancock, and your own MP and ask them why access is so restricted.’
Said Giles: "The beauty of the Suffolk countryside was contrasted with the disgusting situation that Indie and her family are in regarding the lack of access to her medicine.
"It amazes me that for 3,000 years cannabis/hemp was the most farmed crop in the world, yet here we are in 2020 – and a little child can still not get access to this healing plant on the NHS, despite having a prescription!
"The lockdown was meant to be about ‘saving lives’. In Indie’s case (and many others) it is actually endangering them.
"As a plant, cannabis can provide a nutritious food source, strong fibre, bio-fuel and medicine.
"On our walk we only saw fields of barley, wheat and sugar beet.
"Smoking tobacco kills 125,000 people in the UK every year (7 million globally), yet it is still allowed.
"At the same time, millions of people like Indie are denied access to a natural plant as a medicine, which has no known deaths from toxicity.
"How can our politicians and the general public stomach this hypocrisy?"
Possibly due to the lockdown, the Bury-to Clare footpath was in a worse state than the group had found it in previous years, with parts overgrown and many way-markers missing, added Giles.
This sent the group on several ‘diversions’ walking un-necessary miles.
The walkers would like to see the full historic route from Bury's Abbey Gardens to Clare made more accessible and would like to hear from stakeholders in how to achieve this.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help
More by this authorSteve Barton
This website and its associated newspaper are members of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)