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The Duchess launches the Big Bone Walks at Balmoral in aid of the National Osteoporosis Society

20th September 2006

The Duchess of Rothesay donned her hiking boots and joined 90 other walkers in Scotland to kick-start a week of fundraising for the National Osteoporosis Society (NOS).

The Duchess, as President of the NOS, helped raise nearly £200,000 to fight the brittle bone disease by undertaking a 10-mile walk around Loch Muick on the Balmoral Estate.

The event was the first in a week long series of Big Bone Walks across the UK to raise awareness of osteoporosis.

The Big Bone Walks also highlight the importance of exercise, such as walking, in preventing osteoporosis which affects one in two women and one in five men over the age of 50.

Osteoporosis is a cause close to The Duchess's heart as both her mother and grandmother died as a result of the disease.

The wet and windy weather did not deter Her Royal Highness who was joined by 90 other walkers for the event, including local schoolchildren and osteoporosis sufferers.

The Duchess was protected from the elements by a dark green waterproof jacket, green trousers and gaiters, and was accompanied by a traditional wooden walking cane.

Her Royal Highness arrived to the sound of bagpipes and greeted osteoporosis sufferers, local schoolchildren and key members of the charity before setting out with the group.

Balmoral is one of The Duchess's favourite hiking spots and she picked today‘s route herself. A shorter three mile route was available for those unable to complete the 10-mile stretch and members of Braemar Mountain Rescue kept watch in case anybody got into difficulties.

The Duchess looked happy and refreshed as she returned ahead of schedule, around two-and-a-half hours after setting off.

The Balmoral event raised just under £200,000 for the NOS, the majority of which was raised by The Duchess.

Angela Jordan, Deputy Chief Executive of NOS, said The Duchess's contribution was hugely important to the charity.

She said: “We are very lucky to have Her Royal Highness as President, specifically because her connection with us was backed by her mother having osteoporosis.

“It's a very personal connection and she has shown huge commitment over many years to the work of the charity.”

Ms Jordan hoped the event would raise awareness of brittle bone disease.

She added: “If we raise awareness then people, we hope, will become more interested in the subject and can see for themselves that there are lifestyle measures they can take early on in their lives that will help to give them strong bones in their later years.

“The first thing is having a sound diet. That predominantly means eating a healthy balanced diet, but also making sure that there is enough calcium being taken to keep the bones healthy at an early age.

“Furthermore, weight-building exercises, such as walking, can have the effect of building strong and healthy bones.”