5:30am Wednesday 4th June 2014
By Dominic Gilbert
THE MIDNIGHT Charity Walk along the Ridgeway which has raised more than £200,000 is returning this month after being cancelled last year.
Now in its 26th year, the walk was the brainchild of Swindon Rotary Club member Brian Walkley, who lost his battle with a heart condition five years ago.
More than 100 trekkers will walk the 20-mile route along the Ridgeway in the middle of the night on June 14.
Richard Fry, joint chairman of the organising committee, said: “Brian Walkley dreamed up the whole idea. Sadly he is no longer with us. He had a heart condition, and although he soldiered on, he succumbed to it four or five years ago.
“The thinking behind it was that it is something a little bit different. There are lots of sponsored walks organised in the middle of the day. Our route is usually from Avebury to Bishopstone along the Ridgeway or from East Ilsley to Bishopstone.
“Tradition has been that we have always done it in mid-summer, but then we came across the issues of the solstice at Avebury. Lots of travellers parking and camping nearby, with the police coming along to keep an eye on things, makes it quite difficult for us.”
Lack of members last year put a brake on the event, which had been running annually for 25 years.
“Last year we had to cancel because we were short of marshalls,” said Richard. “Lots of our members were on holiday at the time so were unable to marshall, and we need quite a few to be able to run the event. It goes through the night and there are often a lot of changes to the route, so we need them for safety reasons. Sometimes the Ridgeway organisation have to close sections of the route for whatever reason so we have to respond to that.
“Generally we need about 18 to 20 marshalls in order to stay safe, and they are in place for this year. Ordinarily there are between 80 to 100 walkers, and this year we are up to 50 or so, but we would like more.
“We are absolutely delighted it is back and we were determined to do it after the hiccup last year. Before that it had been every year and 2013 would have been the 25th anniversary. We are very pleased we have got it organised.
“We start at the Red Lion, in Avebury, where they register before taking them to the start point, and they head straight up the Ridgeway. They will walk for different charities.
“We think that over the last 25 years the event has raised more than £200,000.”.
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