(March 2015: Relaunch of a piece about ZANE’s 2014 walk.)
Tom Benyon OBE has decided it’s the perfect time to strike out on another walk to raise money for the charity ZANE (Zimbabwe a National Emergency).
England is all sunshine and has been for a while. Half the population is draped across greenery under the nearest available sunbeam.
It’s the sensible thing to do … unless you’re Tom.
This walk began in Ambleside on the edge of Lake Windermere in the Lake District and is now close to its final destination – Oxford.
Tom and his wife Jane began their walk on the last day in June – sounds idyllic – apart from the A48; the nettles; the puncture; the litter; the cows; the drivers; the farmers; ‘the General’; and the 263 miles ….
Why does he do this? Here are some suggestions.
First – Tom Benyon understands people and politics. He knows the double-glazed, “does-it-really-matter” heart of reality, so he focuses on finding a way around the edges to attract attention. Walking and blogging seem to do the trick.
Second – there are a growing number of Zimbabweans who need his help and he knows just how grave that need is particularly for those who are frail and trapped, with family scattered around the globe searching for jobs.
For these elderly, some of whose pensions evaporated alongside the Zimbabwe dollar, ZANE’s support – financial, medical, and emotional – is often the only help there is.
There is also, of course, the need of countless other Zimbabweans disenfranchised under a government whose focus is on political loyalty with little to offer the majority in return.
Third – for Tom there is the simple joy of walking to raise money for children who cannot walk. ZANE’s clubfoot programme has already worked hundreds of miracles and has no plans to stop.
Fourth – Tom Benyon is not a man who likes to sit still. Why be comfortable when pain and new horizons could be just around the corner? 72 is no reason to pause – as he says in his blog Nelson Mandela, at the same age, was still to become president.
Finally – there are some personal reasons – I feel sure one is the joy of being on the road with ‘the General’ (his wife, Jane) and the other is the memory of Leah, the Benyon’s little dog who covered over a thousand miles on behalf of Zimbabweans. Leah is no longer with them – now it is Dinah who is learning the hazards and happiness of life on the road.
My thanks to Dae Sasistorn at Last Refuge for allowing me to use the photographs above taken from their book England – An Aerial View, and to Nicol Beard for helping with the arrangements.