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Ed Parker: Our Walk Home For Christmas didn’t go to plan

By Ed Parker, CEO and Co-founder of Walking With The Wounded

Sadly Duncan and my ‘Walk Home’ didn’t go according to plan.

It started so well, and we did great mileage on the first day, and despite a niggle or two, hardly surprisingly, we felt good as we dossed down in the garden of the Orange Tree pub on Friday evening. An early start on Saturday before first light saw us on the road and heading up to Newmarket on our longest planned day, of 34 miles.

But unfortunately I started feeling a niggle, which became a tweak, which became a pain and after 5 hours I knew to go on would do damage, so we decided to stop.

A&E confirmed I had torn the tendons in my right hip. For me, it was the first time since I broke my arm while I was at Sandhurst that I haven’t completed a physical challenge, and I felt, and still feel, very flat from a purely selfish perspective that we didn’t finish. I am lucky that both Duncan and my wife have put everything in perspective, reminding me of my own health, and why we were doing it – to raise awareness of the men and women who have served who won’t have a home to go to.

Duncan and I had dwelt on this while we were walking, and it was a very strange situation not knowing when and where our next meal would come from, or where we’d sleep.

We were so lucky with the generosity of people on the route, but to be honest people knew we were coming and were looking out for us. This was not real homelessness, but nevertheless it provoked thought. And then the end of our walk made us both think. With a quick call our support network swung into action, I was whisked off to A&E and then collected by my wife and taken home, and supper was cooked and a bath and bed awaited. For someone who is actually homeless, what happens when they fall or they feel sick, or they need to ‘phone a friend’? How lonely it must feel when you are alone with nowhere to go and no one to go to.

The point of Walking Home For Christmas is to raise funds for WWTW to help support exactly those people, and while this Christmas might be grim for them, we can work hard to ensure next Christmas isn’t. I might not have succeeded in my little walk, but please help WWTW succeed in its far bigger journey.

Help us support homeless and other vulnerable veterans this Christmas by signing up to do your own Walk Home For Christmas or making a donation.