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Two seventy-year-old men walk 70 miles in fundraiser for St Mary's Church, Greenham

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Two men who turned 70 this year walked 70 miles over four days to raise money for a new audio-visual system at a Newbury church.

Reverend John Bramhall, an associate minister at St Mary’s Church, Greenham, and Rob Brautigan, a church warden at St Mary’s, completed their 70@70 challenge last month.

The pair have raised an incredible £2,800 for their walking efforts. They initially only expected to raise something in the region of £200 to £500.

John Bramhall (left) and Rob Brautigan before they set off on their 70 mile fundraiser
John Bramhall (left) and Rob Brautigan before they set off on their 70 mile fundraiser

Mr Bramhall said: “We got lots of support and encouragement from people across the church and from friends and family. It was great.

“We decided it would be a good thing to do this year because we both turned 70. We were sat having a coffee one day and decided we’d do it."

He added that people thought they were crazy when they started to tell them of the plan.

From Tuesday, May 17 to Friday, May 20, the two men set off from Newbury in four different directions to explore various areas in West Berkshire and North Hampshire.

The pair after they had completed the four days of walking
The pair after they had completed the four days of walking

They walked a western route to Hungerford, a north-westerly route through the Lambourn Valley, a route to the east to Woolhampton and back through the Enborne Valley, then a southern route down to Newtown and back past Horris Hill.

“We enjoyed it because we got out to see some parts of West Berkshire that you don’t see when you’re travelling by car,” Mr Bramhall said.

Fortunately, besides from one morning, the weather stayed dry for the two men’s outdoor physical test.

However, Mr Bramhall suffered with blisters on the balls of both of his feet after the first day’s walk, meaning he had to walk the remainder of the 70 miles with bandaged up feet. His wife Carolyn kindly tended to dressing his wounds during the week.

The reverend is an experienced walker. He completed a route of a similar distance to the 70@70 challenge last year on the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain last year, a pilgrimage route to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.

Mr Brautigan hadn’t done as much walking before embarking on the fundraising walk, and so he completed some training before the week began.

The two men finished the 70 miles on Friday afternoon at the Control Tower at Greenham Common. They were greeted by friends with flags at the finish line and celebrated the challenge’s completion with a celebratory coffee and slice of cake.

Those who wish to donate to St Mary's Church should visit https://www.stmarysgreenham.org/donate

The pair aren’t sure if they’ll attempt any other similar fundraising walks, but Mr Bramhall did say that it was quite possible in the future the two walkers might have more in the pipeline.

“Somebody said we should do 80@80 and I said we might have to reduce it to kilometres!” he added.

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