It was my passion for walking that led me to the idea of legging it from Manchester to London via the canal towpaths but, in case you should think I’m completely crazy, I also sought sponsorship as a way of rolling out more programmes to work with more girls.

By the time I set off I had raised an astonishing £4K from generous friends, dedicated sympathisers and obligated relatives. None of them threatened to withhold payment in case of non-completion and so I was in high spirits as I strode out. Come day five I was striding less energetically, though no less enthusiastically, when I got into conversation with a lady on one of the moored-up boats. I explained the GOL mission and she became an instant convert to the cause, promising to contribute some dosh via the website. But when, on the next day, I saw her again further down the canal she pressed some cash into my hand instead.

“The generosity of strangers” is a familiar phrase which has been around so long that it must have a grain of truth in it and, judging by this experience, it certainly does. But the big lesson I learned from the adventure (apart from the need for a more comfortable pair of boots) is that so many people – whether strangers or not – really do care enough to want to help. You just have to ask.

So here’s a heartfelt thank you to all you generous, lovely people. Total raised to date £5806.25 (including gift aid).

Rachel Ward-Lilley

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