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Local Help for Heroes volunteer raises £1,700 for charity

17 Jul Local Help for Heroes volunteer raises £1,700 for charity

A Help for Heroes volunteer has raised an astonishing £1,700 for the military charity in memory of her Great Uncle who died in the First World War.

Clare Brumby, from Kings Lynn in Norfolk, has just completed an epic 304-mile walk; starting at the grave of war hero John Markham in Doullen, France, and finishing at his home in Retford, Lincolnshire, just 14 days later.

Clare’s Great Uncle was born in Retford in 1891. He served in the Machine Gun Corps and sadly lost his life in a field hospital in France on May 27, 1918. John Markham is buried in Doullens Communal Cemetery, Somme in France, where Clare started her journey. She explained why she chose Help for Heroes to fundraise for:

“Every day seven people are medically discharged from the Armed Forces. Many struggle, meaning that they and their families need help to aid recovery from wounds; both visible and hidden. Imagine your life changing overnight. Suddenly, the world you knew is no longer accessible. You must start from scratch, all over again. With my connection to the Armed Forces I wanted to play my part in giving those who are prepared to put their lives on the line for us a second chance at life. My Great Uncle never got that second chance, so I wanted to do the walk home that he, and countless others, never got the chance to do. He was just 27 when he died. I now have a son of a similar age, so his sacrifice really resonates with me”.

Clare, and her husband Scott who followed behind in a motorhome, had a truly wonderful experience on the challenge. She trekked on average 20 miles a day with the longest being 28 miles in one day. She trekked through hilltops and cities with the people of France being very welcoming. In particular, Clare remembers an elderly gentleman who gave her all the change in his pocket and a campsite who donated the night’s pitch fee. Clare says of the walk:

“The experience has given me an enormous sense of achievement. You really can do anything if you put your mind to it. It wasn’t always a positive experience though. I had 2 blisters on day one and 15 by the end of it. I even lost 5 toenails by the end of the walk! I had 5 different pairs of shoes to choose from to aid me and at one point even walked 9 miles in flip-flops! It took my feet about a week for the swelling to go down. Many of our wounded, injured and sick veterans today are not able to walk the distances I did, so it helped me to get through the challenge. When I got home, people wanted to take me out for a congratulatory meal but all I wanted to do was take my shoes off, have a shower and a cup of tea!”

Clare has now visited the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Colchester to see for herself how funds raised benefit the recovery of wounded, injured and sick veterans and serving personnel.

“Working in a hospital its sometimes easy to see patients as conditions rather than people. The fact that the Recovery Centre takes a holistic approach is incredible and shows respect to the individuals involved. To be able to offer all these facilities and services is amazing. It’s been a real eye-opener and I would be honoured to raise money for the charity in the future. Help for Heroes did more than just send me a ‘thank you’ letter. They have invited me to see the charity in action which is really nice and I can guarantee it’s worth every penny”.

Julian North, Recovery Manager East, who presented Clare with an ‘Over and Above’ Award, said: “Our fundraisers are so important to the Charity. Their money means that we have a foundation to plan for the future so that we can supply sustainable and long-term support to our beneficiaries. I want to take this opportunity to thank Clare for helping us to rebuild lives”.