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Walkers enjoy borough’s ‘gorgeous’ countryside in 150-mile M25 hike

PUBLISHED: 15:00 20 April 2018

A group of pensioners is walking through Havering as part of a 150 mile challenge to walk around London raising money for a homeless shelter. Picture: WINSTON REID

A group of pensioners is walking through Havering as part of a 150 mile challenge to walk around London raising money for a homeless shelter. Picture: WINSTON REID

Archant

Pensioners who dubbed themselves the “Loopy Walkers” have hit the borough’s paths and byways as part of a 150 mile fundraising hike – around the M25.

Taking a break for a well deserved ice-cream in Central Park. Picture: WINSTON REIDTaking a break for a well deserved ice-cream in Central Park. Picture: WINSTON REID

The fundraisers – many of whom worked in housing before retiring – are walking 150 miles along the “London Loop”, known as the M25 for walkers, to raise £5,000 for the Branches Homeless Hostel.

A 17-strong group of “50-to-60-something-year-olds” completed the first stage of 16 miles from Chingford station through woodland to Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Havering-Atte-Bower ending in Harold Wood last Saturday (April 14).

Asked about the walk’s highlights, retired housing manager Winston Reid who masterminded the challenge, joked: “The mud. It was extremely muddy. But Havering has gorgeous countryside.

“It was great fun talking and walking. A few people joined us who thought they couldn’t walk so far and actually loved it. It was a great day,” he added.

Walkers raising money for a hostel walk through Hainault Forest. Picture: WINSTON REIDWalkers raising money for a hostel walk through Hainault Forest. Picture: WINSTON REID

The second stage of 14 miles is in May with a walk from Harold Wood through Upminster, along the Ingrebourne valley, Hornchurch Country Park and Rainham ending at Purfleet.

On what he is looking forward to ahead of stage two, Mr Reid said: “It will be flatter with less mud.”

So far the charitable challenge – split into 10 stages – has netted £1,700. Mr Reid said that the money raised would go towards paying for a new member of staff at the Walthamstow based hostel to help resettle homeless people. The new employee would help homeless men and women stay on their feet supporting them with advice on work and housing after leaving the 27 bedroom hostel. Another aim is to raise awareness of the need to address homelessness throughout the year and not just during the winter months.

“People don’t always like to give money to homeless people on the streets, but they are happy to give donations to those who work with them,” Mr Reid said.

Taking a break for a well deserved ice-cream in Central Park. Picture: WINSTON REIDTaking a break for a well deserved ice-cream in Central Park. Picture: WINSTON REID

The “Loopy Walkers” aim to complete the challenge in September. Asked what keeps them going, Mr Reid said: “We love it. And we’re raising money for a great cause.”

To sponsor them visit give.net/TheLOOPChallenge2018 and click on donate.

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