11 May, 2021

When Covid-19 struck in 2020 many of our regular fundraising events had to be cancelled. So we came up with the genius idea of running virtual events instead. Tour de Backyard, where participants pledge to walk, cycle or run in their neighbourhood and have friends and family sponsor their efforts, has been one of our most successful, so we’ve kept it going.

This year’s Tour de Backyard competition finished on April 30 and raised an impressive $14,375, with a total of 1,313km completed.

Our top fundraiser was Bridget Ayris from the Bay of Plenty and her team of Barny’s Battlers, who raised a whopping $13,348. Bridget took up the challenge to remember her husband Barny Ayris, who died last year, and thank Harbour Hospice’s nurses.

“My goal was to walk 110km with our seven-year-old Labrador, Boo. But word got round and people from all around the world started joining me,” Bridget explains.

Bridget and Boo blog

Bridget and Boo

“Most of them didn’t know each other but they had all known and loved Barny, so instead of it being an individual effort I formed this eclectic global team. From Auckland to Wellington, Dubai to England and then back to the Bay of Plenty, we became Barny’s Battlers together.”

Bridget is still in disbelief as to how much the group raised and says it wasn’t only Harbour Hospice that benefited from their efforts.

“It gave me something to focus on and got me and Boo out of the house every day. In many ways it helped me work through my grief.”

Bridget and Barny Tour de backyard 2021 blog

Bridget and Barney

Barny and Bridget had been married for 20 years and have two wonderful children. Bridget remembers Barny as a kind, caring and funny man who was a stay-at-home dad “well before it was a thing” and could always be relied on to do the school run, as well as coach the kids’ sports teams.

“He told me his goal in life was to be a great dad – he nailed it.”

The couple was introduced to Harbour Hospice when Barny communicated that he wanted to stay at home for the final part of his life.

“Harbour Hospice facilitated that by giving me incredible support,” Bridget says. “The nurses would give us simple advice or just reassurance that we were doing everything we could to keep Barny as comfortable as possible. The night Barny passed away, hospice was the first place I called. We were offered counselling when we first engaged with Hospice and while Barny wasn’t keen to take this offer up I did. I am so grateful for the support we received.”

If you’d like to fundraise for Harbour Hospice, here are some ideas you could try.