Friday, 17 September 2021

Legion men join Dutch fundraiser

TWO men walked 200km (125 miles) over four days to raise money for the Poppy Appeal.

TWO men walked 200km (125 miles) over four days to raise money for the Poppy Appeal.

John Green and Stan Ainsley took part in the Nijmegen Marches in the Netherlands last month.

They were among 50,000 people from across the world to join the annual challenge, which celebrated its centenary this year.

Mr Green, 81, is chairman of the Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion and 59-year-old Mr Ainsley is secretary.

The pair drove to the Netherlands via France and stayed with the family of Mr Green’s late first wife, who was Dutch, in a town near Nijmegen.

They began their trek less than 48 hours later at 4am on Mr Green’s birthday.

They had to start at the same time and finish by 5pm every day in order to complete 50km and to qualify for the golden cross medal that is awarded to everyone who completes the total distance.

Each day the pair would follow a different route that started and finished in Nijmegen and passed through many villages.

Mr Green, who lives in Maidensgrove, said: “One of the difficulties that we faced was the heat.

“On one day I drank eight litres of water and ate eight bananas — now I don’t want to see a banana again! I had last done it 19 years ago and I felt it a bit as my knees aren’t what they used to be.

“But there was a great enthusiasm from the Dutch in every village we passed through, which was fantastic.”

Mr Ainsley, from Harpsden, said: “We did four loops and you wouldn’t see the same place twice and those that lived there got their chance to see all the people taking part."

The locals embrace the event and created arches of balloons at entrances to villages to welcome the walkers. There would also be bands playing and crowds of well-wishers.

Mr Ainsley said: “There really was a carnival atmosphere. There were children handing out sweets and pieces of fruit, even hose-piping us down to keep us all cool."

At the end, the men each received the medal, which is also worn by the Dutch military.

So far they have raised about £3,400 with more donations still to come in.

Mr Green said he would not do the walk again and instead would “stick to snooker” but Mr Ainsley said he would love to do return.

“You would have to be superman to not find it difficult but it was amazingly exhilarating,” he said. “When you felt down they lifted you up — it was an extraordinary event to be a part of.”

To make a donation, visit or

More News:

POLL: Have your say