Tuesday, 26 January 2010

A 7,000-mile stroll with the dogs

I spotted him this afternoon following us along the coast path as we stopped to admire the view from near Steamer Steps in Budleigh Salterton. "You look as though you're going a bit further than us," I said as he passed with his two black retrievers. And indeed he was. With that enormous rucksack he couldn't have been just taking the dogs for a walk. So in a way it was no surprise when he told us that he'd been following the coastline of Great Britain for almost a year, on foot.

And then I thought of the savagely hard winter we'd been having and saw the days-old stubble on his face, and realised that there was a bit of a story here. Indeed there was and is.

Ges Laker set out on his mammoth journey from Warsash in Hampshire on 31 January last year. His aims: to raise funds for a rather special charity, as well as to discover the coastal secrets of the UK. And I suppose also to keep fit, along with his two canine companions Phoebe and Sumo, the mother-and-son duo.

An ex-Royal Navy man, 54-year-old Ges was drawn to fund-raise for St Dunstan's, the Sussex-based charity which supports blind ex-service men and women, helping them to become self-sufficient, regain their optimism and make the most of opportunities.
http://www.st-dunstans.org.uk/

He left the Navy in 1991 to start his own landscaping business, but has taken a break from work to embark on his big adventure. "I have been dreaming of this walk for over 10 years and now is the time for me to give something back," he tells us on his website. http://www.lakerscoastline.org/

So it wasn't just the view over the sea that was inspiring today. He didn't ask us for a donation, but it seemed only right to help him on his way.

Below: Heading east. Ges Laker on the last stretch of his 7,000-mile walk, from Budleigh to Southampton. With Phoebe and Suo of course.

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