Why I’m walking from Lands End to John O’Groats to support Global Angels.
Richard Harries, 67, is walking a thousand miles in seven weeks to raise funds for us. He’s spent his life helping people, in his work as a cardio-radiologist and through volunteering as a first responder in emergency situations. Now he’s taking on the adventure of a lifetime to support some of the poorest people in the world. Richard is a truly inspirational, yet humble man. We interviewed him to find out what makes him tick, why everyone should be an adventurer and how he’ll complete his unaided challenge.
Tell us how this challenge came about?
Well, a couple of years ago I started reading adventure books on ocean rowing and mountain climbing. I had an idea in my head that I’d do Lands End to John O’Groats as a warm up for a really big adventure!
Why are you supporting Global Angels?
Once I’d decided on the walk, I started looking for a charity to support and I came across Global Angels. I just liked their ethos and the fact that it’s a small charity without a corporate agenda. The personal element was important to me too, Molly oversees the projects, she’s helping people in very poor environments and it’s really got heart.
And of course, there’s the adventure element – Bear Grylls is a keen supporter of Molly!
I know you love a challenge, tell us what about your adventures?
Ever since I was a child I’ve gravitated towards challenges of all kinds. But it’s only really since I semi-retired in 2004 (and stopped smoking) that it’s all developed. I channelled my energy into running at first. I started to take it really seriously and ran seven marathons, then I climbed Kilimanjaro and completed a Bear Grylls survival course – that really pushed me to the limits! It’s all led me to take on bigger and bigger challenges.
So tell us more about the walk
Well, it’s going to take me about seven weeks overall and the road distance is 874 miles but I think it will be more like 1000 when walking. Originally, I planned to do 25 miles a day but I injured my leg about a month before the start of the walk. I actually couldn’t walk for a couple of days. It’s gradually got better but I’ve reduced my daily mileage. I’m starting with 9 to 10 miles then will work up to 12- 15 and towards Scotland. Hopefully I’ll be will up to 20 maximum a day.
What will you take with you?
I’ve built a trailer to pull behind me so I don’t have to carry a rucksack and will have everything I need with me. I’ve got a one man tent, which I’ve practised staying out in over the winter. My one luxury is a camp bed, it’s lightweight and keeps me off the ground. I’ve got a burner for making tea and soup so I will either wild camp or knock on doors as I go and ask if I can stay. I’ll also stop off at pubs for an evening meal.
What are your key stop offs?
• Milestones 1: Launceston, Cornwall – where I was born and Mum still lives there
• Milestone 2: Exeter where my brother and wife live
• Milestone 3 Derbyshire – Blore Hall
• Milestone 4: Preston – to see my other brother
• Milestone 5: Borders of Scotland
What do you think will be the main challenges?
The physical tiredness will be hard. But I think what will challenge me will be the loneliness and being away from home.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking of doing an extreme challenge?
When you get to 67 it brings life into sharp focus. I look at the road ahead and you never know what’s around the corner. The saying goes “it could be a new corner or the bitter end!” So I want to live life as hard as I can and as brightly as I can. It’s exciting! One of the messages I’d like to get across is that no matter what your age or condition, there’s an adventure for you.
What’s your key motivation for doing this challenge?
• That anyone can take on an adventure!
• Pollution is such a big issue for us all. If I can walk this far at my age I hope it inspires someone to leave their car at home for a day.
• To raise awareness of poverty and Global Angels’s community based approach.
Donate to support Richard and Global Angels. If you’d like to donate, you can do so here.
You can also send Richard a message of support via his Facebook page and follow his route, or join him for a day of walking.
Further information about the Tsavo project
Richard is raising money for our project in Tsavo, Kenya. Every penny of the donations raised by him will go directly to provide water, education and business opportunities to the very poorest of people in the region. Right across the valley we will be building water pans, digging boreholes, building shade houses, training the local families how to manage them well, grow crops that thrive in this climate, pooling resources and developing multiple channels to market.
It was five years ago that Molly first visited the Itinyi Valley, in Tsavo, Kenya. She was filled with compassion for the women and children she found walking 10-15 kms a day for water taken from open air water pan dams – the only water most of them had access to and it was being shared with cows, goats and wild animals. Molly became determined to do all she could to empower them and to transform the valley.
The Itinyi Valley has been one of the poorest communities in Kenya, facing huge obstacles just to survive, intensified with climate change. This is a semi-arid area and the increasing periods of drought are a challenge, but we believe that by utilising many sustainable and organic solutions we can effectively turn things around. This community needs us and others to come alongside them and work with them for this to be achieved.
Teaching and modelling by example is one of the most successful ways to change ingrained behaviour in community practices. As we are successful here, this will also be our showcase of how we transform communities and inspire others.
Global Angels Empowerment Fund
Through our Angel Empowerment Fund we will be giving £200 startup loans for women and young people to develop small businesses on their land holdings – businesses such as bee keeping, as well as goat and chicken farms. That same £200, when repaid, will provide a loan for another “entrepreneur” in the community. In five years, your £200 will have given four entrepreneurs the chance to become successful and it will keep on giving and giving. This is a great example of how we make it easy for you to make a difference 🙂
I would like to encourage you to consider making the Tsavo Project a community you are passionate to support. It’s one of a few projects you can actually come with me on a volunteer trip and perfect for choosing a specific resource to fundraise for in your company, as a group or individually – as a marathon runner for example.
If you would like to get involved directly on the ground on one of our projects and are able to visit one of our communities with us then please contact us, we’d love to hear from you!