Hero Newbury teacher completes charity challenge to support pupil with cancer
Mike Hart, 75, has been a PE teacher in the Newbury area for the past 54 years, 50 of which he spent at St Bart's.
He is now working at Thorngrove School, where one of his young pupils received a devastating malignant brain tumour diagnosis.
Determined to spend his last year of teaching supporting a worthy cause, Mr Hart embarked on a 27-mile trek along the Kennet and Avon Canal on Sunday, April 2, to raise money for the Brain Tumour Charity.
Mr Hart walked exactly 26 miles and 385 yards, starting at 6.03am from Honeystreet just west of Pewsey and finishing at Victoria Park in Newbury around 4pm.
His years of teaching meant he had a strong number of people backing him, with some joining in the walk at various points along the route and the rest greeting him at the finish line at Victoria Park.
"We had an amazing day," said Mr Hart.
"I was joined by an outstanding team of nine other walkers including Nick Graham, headteacher at Thorngrove School, Tim Barton our logistics expert, both my daughters Katie and Nikki, and 11-year-old Thorngrove pupil Archie, who displayed amazing fortitude and and determination to cover the 27 miles that we travelled in 10-and-a-half hours."
Due to heavy rain leading up to the walk, parts of the route were difficult to navigate at times.
But the walkers continued undeterred, making excellent progress throughout the day and arriving on time at Victoria Park.
Mr Hart's daughter Katie accompanied him along the whole route to help boost the profile of the charity and offer much-needed support for the young boy and his family.
"My brother [Nigel], sister [Nikki] and I are incredibly proud to have a dad who can galvanize and unite a community in the way that we experienced on Sunday," she said.
"His energy and passion to make a difference and support others is truly inspirational."
Mr Hart added: "I want to stress that this whole event became team oriented and then developed rapidly into a community gathering and certainly not about me.
"Supporters were able to track our progress very closely owing to a WhatsApp group.
"As the day progressed, the small group became larger and larger until up to 40 followers stretched along the towpath and were accompanied by a flotilla of paddle boarders, manned by Thorngrove pupils, as we approached the centre of Newbury.
"More supporters had gathered in Victoria Park and upwards of 100 people welcomed us in tired, sore but feeling elated that we had met a stern challenge and in the process raised over £5,000 for the Brain Tumour Charity.
"The money raised is fantastic and desperately needed.
"However, almost more important is the raising of awareness for a charity which supports up to 100,000 new cases of diagnosed brain tumours each year and I hope that by spreading the word in the Newbury area, more people will work towards finding a much needed cure."
Visit https://www.justgiving.com/page/katie-hart-1677698012361?utm_source=copyLink&utm_medium=one_page&utm_content=page/katie-hart-1677698012361&utm_campaign=pfp-share&utm_term=dd1a38b18e1e4f50a2f8ac6f94472703 to support Mr Hart's fundraiser.