Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Friends walk 57 miles home for charity

THREE men walked 57 miles in 13 hours along the River Thames to raise money for charity.

THREE men walked 57 miles in 13 hours along the River Thames to raise money for charity.

Ben Hargreaves, Gary Connery and Graham Bell set off from Hammersmith in London at 5.30am and arrived in Henley town hall shortly after 6pm.

They were greeted by friends including Henley Mayor Martin Akehurst, town councillor Sam Evans and Brian Walter, of Henley HandiBus, who had dropped the men off in Hammersmith.

The trio were raising money for Walking With The Wounded, which funds education and training courses for wounded servicemen and women.

Mr Hargreaves, a designer, of Albert Road, Henley, said: “The charity’s Christmas campaign this year is called Walking Home for Christmas. The idea is that you give up your commute to work and give the money you save from a taxi or train to charity. Graham suggested we do Hammersmith to Henley along the Thames towpath. We all decided it was a great idea and that we should do it.

“Graham and I had recently run the Ridgeway for Walking With The Wounded, which was 84 miles over three days, so we felt in reasonable condition. We all knew we would finish it but we couldn’t tell what state we would be in or how we would bond as a team.

“It was brilliant to get to Henley. My biggest worry for most of the walk was arriving at the town hall to find the lights off and nobody there. When we saw all the guys standing on the steps it was brilliant.”

Mr Bell, a TV presenter, of New Street, Henley, said: “The challenge was tough, much tougher than I thought it would be. Gary is probably the fittest out of all of us but we were all on our knees when we finished.” The former Olympic skier is currently training for the Marathon des Sables, a 156-mile run across the Saraha Desert.

The trio have so far collected more than £700, including £200 which was raised by town councillor Will Hamilton at the Bull pub in Bell Street.

Mr Bell said: “Walking With The Wounded, as well as Help For Heroes, is very necessary right now. We are just off the back of two very nasty conflicts and we have a lot of injured servicemen and women. The charity is all about getting these guys back up and into employment.”

Mr Connery is a film stuntman who performed at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012.

To make a donation, visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/ggb

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