May is joined by The High Sheriff of Suffolk Edward Creasy, Chief Executive Stephen Singleton and David Sheepshanks Former Chairman, Suffolk and UK Community Foundations at the launch of ‘Fifty Miles with My Dad’ 

In early September, the launch of ‘Fifty Miles with my Dad’ was celebrated at Seckford Hall, Woodbridge – a book in which May de la Rue, a medical student from Melton, tells the story of a fundraising walk with her father Colin in 2009. When she was ten years old, they walked the length of the Suffolk coast from Felixstowe to Lowestoft.

May’s trek in memory of a close relative made headline news and raised over £10,000. Government matched funding made the total enough for Suffolk Community Foundation to invest as a permanent endowment, making May its youngest fundholder, while providing regular grants from the income to local grassroots charities. Net proceeds from the book are in aid of the fund.

Representatives of the Foundation and other local charities were among nearly 200 guests at the reception to hear May, now in her fifth year at the University of Bristol, recall the experience.

The book, she said, was a joint effort with her father but told the story from her perspective. Her first hope was that it might inspire anyone who hasn’t done so already to do the full walk themselves, and perhaps come to know and love coastal Suffolk even more than before.

Completing the trek in sections over eight weeks, father and daughter walked most of the way side-by-side, often with no other soul in sight. ‘Our conversation found depths that aren’t normally explored at the kitchen table’, said May. ‘I hope this will be a story that families can relate to; and if it encourages them to share more quality time it will have been worth telling.’

But her main emphasis was on the parallel journey that unfolded through what she unexpectedly gained on a path of philanthropy. Meeting young people with disability, she learnt about the therapies on offer and how little money can be enough to make a big difference. As her musical interests developed – May composed a full-length requiem which was performed and recorded while she was still a resident pupil at Rugby School – she was able to focus on charities that provided music therapy and opportunities for those with special needs. It was these experiences, and the fulfilment gained from the impact on others, that led her to study medicine.

I hope this may encourage other people, of whatever age, to try something similar themselves. If it inspires just one person to embark on their own philanthropic journey, a purpose will have been fulfilled.

May de la Rue

May’s book has been warmly received as an inspiration in the voluntary sector, as well as an enchanting celebration of Suffolk’s heritage.

It has been a privilege to be a part of May’s journey. This moving story will provide an inspiration for many people from all walks of life.

Stephen Singleton

Chief Executive, Suffolk Community Foundation

This is a lovely portrait of a very special part of the world and a hugely inspirational story.

Edward Creasy

High Sheriff of Suffolk

This moving story is living proof of how philanthropy is open to everyone and of how even a child’s walk on the coast with a parent can turn into such a seismic inspiration.

David Sheepshanks

Former Chairman, Suffolk and UK Community Foundations

‘Fifty Miles with my Dad’, by May de la Rue, is published by Sarnia House and available in hardback (304pp plus 50 colour plates) from all bookshops and through Amazon. Price £18, with royalties and publisher’s net proceeds in aid of the ‘Fifty Miles with my Dad’ fund at Suffolk Community Foundation. Grants from the fund are made to charities and community groups supporting those with disability, the infirm and the vulnerable.

Since its inception, the fund has so far awarded over £14,000 in grants to charities and community groups across the county. 

Some of the charities that the fund has supported
  • Friends of Priory School
  • Pro Corda Trust
  • Suffolk Artlink
  • Music In Our Bones
  • Unscene Suffolk
  • Warden’s Charitable Trust
  • Fresh Start – new beginnings
  • Suffolk Cruse Bereavement Care
  • Disability Advice NE Suffolk (DANES)
  • Riding for the Disabled (Woodbridge & District Group)
  • LEAPS Suffolk

To find out more visit May’s website at

Photo credits – Andy Abbott