(March 2015: Relaunch of a piece about the end of ZANE’s 2012 walk.)
Tom Benyon OBE and his wife Jane, both long-distance fundraising walkers for ZANE, are not a pair of ‘big’ people. The couple are physically quite small.
But they have covered between them over a thousand miles on behalf of Zimbabwe A National Emergency (ZANE).
Their recent walk, which ended last week, started early in September 2012 in York on a sunny day.
Last Friday, just over 349 miles later and a mile or two out from Canterbury, the sun still shone but the roads and weather had taken their toll.
Tom was on to his second pair of long distance walking sticks and would probably have been on to his second set of toenails if he had been able to replace them as fast.
Harry Campbell had covered over 2,500 miles in the car providing logistical support and Jane had become umbilically attached to the GPS satellite tracking system.
The trio, without Leah the ten-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier who had cut her paw at the top of the last rise, completed the final downhill stretch towards Canterbury Cathedral at around 3pm on Friday 28th September 2012.
Was it worth it? Yes. ZANE is already richer thanks to the Benyons putting much of their lives on hold for three weeks.
Every mile of this walk has raised around £377 and the word about ZANE has spread. The days spent on the road have been followed by nights in different homes helping to thread ZANE and its work a little deeper into England.
The vulnerable in Zimbabwe will probably never know of the miles covered and the homes visited on their behalf.
In 2010 Tom walked 450 miles from Edinburgh to London and in 2011 he walked 335 miles from Land’s End to Westminster.
The dark peace within the walls was stained with the colour of long windows and the flicker of candles. There were footsteps and whispered prayers, and the brisk knowledge of guides remembering the murdered, and the whims and ambitions of kings.
It felt the right place to end a long distance charity walk for Zimbabwe. The right place to remember that the reason Tom Benyon had set off in the first place was to raise money to enable his staff, ZANE’s staff, to continue their work.
In a fundraising letter he writes:
“Please imagine how hard and profoundly depressing it is for them to turn away the poor and the old, the vulnerable and the desperate, because ZANE lacks the resources.”
If the giving can carry on then so can ZANE and those it supports.
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Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2018