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Retired vicar sets off on 425-mile walk for charity

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The charity specialises in emergency shelter aid and supports people who lose their homes to disaster, extreme weather events, and conflict.

David Foster, 68, is hoping to raise £12,000 for ShelterBox by walking from Lowestoft – the easternmost point of England, to the westernmost tip of Wales near St David’s.

Setting off on Saturday 20 May at 10am from Lowestoft, the grandfather-of-three who now lives near Evesham hopes to reach St Davids in five weeks’ time. As far as possible, the route uses parts of existing long-distance paths and trails, such as the Angles Way, the Cotswold Way, and the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. The terrain is such that David will need to climb nearly 32,800 feet along the way. David would like to welcome people to join him at Ness Point to launch the walk and maybe join for the first mile, hour or day. The first hour of the route will lead past Christ Church, St Andrew’s Roman Hill, and St Mark’s Oulton Broad.

David says: “I’ve wanted to do this walk across England and Wales for years, and I’m sure it will be a life-changer for me. Back in the day, my Queen’s Scout expedition challenge was to walk the 25 highest peaks in Wales, from the Black Mountains to Snowdonia. We didn’t quite make it to the end, but I’m looking forward to revisiting some of that route as part of my coast-to-coast walk. By raising money for ShelterBox, I want to make a life-changing difference to others as well – people for whom a tent is not what you carry on your back for a challenge but the key to survival.”

Well known for its iconic green boxes, the charity has evolved to provide different combinations of emergency shelter items and training to make the biggest difference for communities after disaster. It provides locally appropriate shelter and other essential items such as solar lights, blankets, mosquito nets, and water filters.

ShelterBox is currently helping people affected by the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, as well as people displaced by extreme weather events like the monsoon flooding in Pakistan and the worst drought to hit East Africa in 40 years.

David adds: “I first heard about ShelterBox through a friend in Rotary and I was immediately captivated – it was such a simple, practical way to get immediate life-giving help to where it’s most needed. The focus may change – floods in Pakistan, conflict in Ukraine, earthquake in Turkey – but when disaster strikes, people need immediate shelter and tools for survival before they can start to build again.”

ShelterBox is also supporting people who have had to flee their homes, or had them damaged, because of conflict. ShelterBox is working in Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Mozambique.

David has set up the website for anyone wanting to support his challenge or find out more.