Four local men from Hadleigh, affectionately known as the Four Old Men of Hadleigh, were welcomed home after completing the gruelling 192 mile Coast to Coast walk across England, in aid of Hadleigh Dementia Action Alliance.
Jim Sephton, Jimmy Wilding, Anthony Foster and Richard Groom, embarked on an epic walk on 17 June which took them just 12 days.
The Coast to Coast walk is normally started from St Bees on the Cumbrian coast and finishes at Robin Hood's Bay on the North Yorkshire coast, passing through the National Parks of the Lake District, Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors. The scenery along the path is truly stunning, more particularly in fair weather, but often just as stunning in the rain. Most people take fourteen days to walk it plus a rest day in Kirby Stephens but such was the pressure on their diaries that they only had 12 walking days available.
Completing the Coast to Coast walk was originally Richard and Jimmy’s idea and through mutual contacts at St Marys Church, Hadleigh, they gained two other brave, willing comrades in Jim and Anthony.
Jimmy is very well known in Hadleigh and many people told him they would sponsor the group - so it was a natural decision to raise funds for Hadleigh Dementia Action Alliance, as Jimmy’s wife is living with dementia.
The group set off and kept local people informed of their progress via daily updates on social media, which many people in Hadleigh and beyond looked forward to.
Back home in Hadleigh, Patricia Simmonds and friends started knitting forget me nots, which many local residents now proudly wear as a sign of support for the walkers.
Jimmy said, “We decided to use a company called Packhorse to book our accommodation and to transfer the luggage each day. This proved to be an excellent decision as we stayed in some wonderful places and were made most welcome by our hosts”.
"We drove up to Kirby Stephens, left the car there and on Fathers day we were driven to St Bees to start the walk. Imagine Jim’s surprise when he was greeted by his son Ian and wife Sam, who had driven up from Manchester to see us off.”
“We started the walk in pouring rain and the first part is a steep uphill ascent to St Bees Head, before a delightful walk along the coast. The weather cleared to sunshine and we arrived at our Bed & Breakfast about 6pm. #Day1Done"
The group endured some terrible weather conditions including blizzards, torrential rain, thick fog and yet some days were glorious.
Anthony, #I can sleep anywhere continues “The next day we stopped at the Black Sail Youth Hostel and were greeted by “You must be the four old men from Hadleigh” the power of Facebook!
We then had the steepest ascent of the whole walk up Loft Beck. The wind was gusting Gale Force and it was really difficult to keep our balance. All our training in Hadleigh had not prepared us for the Lake District. The paths are steep and very rough under foot and every footstep had to be measured.”
Every evening the messages came thick and fast “Very proud of you. Beautiful scenery, shame about the weather.” “Well done to you all, an epic adventure by truly inspirational men.” “Lovely photos so we can enjoy following and supporting you great four guys.”
Richard continued the traveller's tails “On day three Anthony slipped on a scramble up to Greenup Edge and was lucky not to have been killed! He was very badly bruised and showed amazing courage and determination to carry on. We were now in a routine walking from 8.15 to 18.30 each day and completed the Lake District part of the walk without further incident. We were having dinner in Shap when I collapsed. The ambulance people were brilliant and took me to hospital in Carlise. I am pleased to report that I have made a good recovery. But with a very heavy heart I set off home, not on foot I may add! My Coast 2 Coast dream being fulfilled by my amazing buddies.”
Jimmy picks up the story “After Shap the scenery each day was different with the Vale of Mowbray being very wet and muddy. The hardest day was probably the North Yorkshire Moors with rain, wind and very poor visibility all day with lots of ascents and descents on difficult paths.
Jimmy continues “with just two glorious days to finish our adventures we were delighted to be welcomed by Anthony’s cousin and Jimmy’s cousin as we entered Robin Hood Bay, a welcome site at the end of our epic journey."
Jimmy, Jim, Richard and Anthony met some amazing people along the way, including a team of Sunderland supports that went wild when they spotted Jimmy’s Ipswich Town Football Shirt. They came across a sherper with his home on his back. They led two Dutch ladies up a very wrong path! And two lovely ladies from just around the corner in Rendlesham.
To date thanks to the generosity of so many people Our Four Old Men from Hadleigh have raised around £4,000. The original target was £1,000!
The Hadleigh Dementia Action Alliance is working with the community to raise awareness and understanding to dementia, making our wonderful town of Hadleigh a dementia friendly community.
Tracey Loynds, HDAA said “Four old Men from Hadleigh realised a dream to walk the Coast 2 Coast in just 12 days the funds so kindly donated will go towards funding our activities facilitator for another year”
Cllr Kathryn Grandon, Chairman of Babergh District Council, said:
“It’s amazing to hear about the journey, generosity and selflessness of these special members of our community and I’d encourage anyone who can to come and hear their story on 6 September at St Mary’s Church.
“The money raised for the Hadleigh Dementia Action Alliance will go a really long way in continuing to make Hadleigh a dementia friendly community.”
The four old men from Hadleigh invite you to join them for an Evening to hear their story, enjoy a glass of wine an to celebrate the amazing community that we live in. This FREE event will take place at St Mary’s Church on Friday 6th September 2019 at 7pm Tickets will be available from St Mary’s Church, Hadleigh Pool & Leisure and The Thrift Shop, from 1st August 2019.
If you would like to know more about how you can get involved in making Hadleigh a dementia friendly community email us now at email@example.com.