African charity ZANE: They’ve done it …. again!

The Benyons

Tom Benyon OBE, his wife Jane, and dog, Dinah arrive at the Martyrs Memorial in Oxford

(March 2015: Relaunch of a piece about the end of ZANE’s 2014 walk.)

Tom Benyon OBE, his wife Jane, and their young dog Dinah have covered between them over 260 miles in 22 days to raise money for ZANE (Zimbabwe a National Emergency).

I have not.

Clothes lifeless, feet blistered, head blurred, sense of humour evaporated, I climb the last few steps of the Martyrs’ Memorial in Oxford …

Tom Benyon OBE and his wife Jane, fellow fundraising walker for ZANE

Tom Benyon OBE and his wife Jane, fellow fundraising walker for ZANE

I am the damp survivor of an early evening, half-mile walk along Oxford’s baking, tourist-clumped pavements.

Ten minutes later Tom and Jane Benyon come into view – veterans of miles and miles of roads and footpaths, and now on the last few yards of the 14 miles they’ve just covered.

As I had limped from bus-stop to memorial they were nearing the end of many miles under the full force of a shadowless noon and humidity of over 80%.

I try not to think about this as I balance my little camera and snap some shots …

It is now a day later … in the cool of my office with my half-mile blisters healing, I have to acknowledge that the pictures and a few words, especially the word ‘walk’, cannot say enough about all that needs to be said.

This latest ZANE walk was anything but a stroll for Jane and Tom, and I know that the small crowd gathered around the Martyrs’ Memorial knew it was welcoming home a real achievement.

Grandchildren, parents of those children, fellow-walkers, and ZANE trustees weren’t just clapping the sunburnt pair and their bouncing dog home … all of us at the finish could feel the personal cost.

Our applause was a mix of relief and amazement, and was also on behalf of all those who may never know the true price of every penny raised.

As for the dog – Dinah looked as if she could not have been prouder.

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Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2018

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