Birthday bonus: woman to walk for world water cause

New challenge . . . Elizabeth Duke, pictured canoeing on the Whanganui river, will walk the Dunedin Marathon half marathon to raise money for Friendly Water for the World. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A Dunedin woman is celebrating her birthday early by raising money to help marginalised overseas communities access clean water.

Elizabeth Duke (79) will walk the half marathon in next weekend’s Dunedin Marathon to raise money for Friendly Water for the World.

The organisation helps communities build simple water filters which make polluted water drinkable.

Its mission is to expand global access to low-cost clean water technologies and information about health and sanitation.

Duke will turn 80 in January and created a fundraising page so anyone who wanted to celebrate her birthday could give money.

Ordinarily, she and her family, most of whom are in England, “don’t do big things” for birthdays.

She is a keen walker so knew she would easily be able to complete the 10km course, so set herself the more challenging goal of 21km.

Although Duke had not taken part in an event like the Dunedin Marathon, she was looking forward to race day.

“There seems to be such a mutually-supportive feel among people.

“The organisers have been very encouraging.”

Duke heard about Friendly Water for the World in 1991, when she was at an international Quaker gathering in Kenya.

She was unable to attend its workshop but some of her friends did, and she learned more through emails and newsletters.

When possible, she made the “odd” donation.

Money raised was used to help supply materials needed for water filters, which local people were taught how to build.

“You can scoop water out of a puddle, you pour it in and it comes out drinkable at the other end.

“Apparently one filter will do the daily water for 10 families.”

To give, go to