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Clarets climb a stairway to Devon

Nine supporters of Chelmsford City FC have completed a hike of around 240 miles between Chelmsford and Torquay arriving at their destination on Saturday morning. 

As things stand nearly £9000 has been pledged in donations for locally based good causes, and donations are still pouring in.

Homelessness organisation Cool to be Kind, City of Chelmsford Mencap, and the club’s own football in the community scheme are the beneficiaries.

Starting on the day of the Clarets home draw with Weston Super Mare the previous Saturday (16 March), the walk was completed as a relay, with each day’s journey of around 35 miles undertaken by a morning group and an afternoon group.

After completing the walk they then went onto Truro by mini bus (the match had originally been schelduled for Torquay as Truro had been ground sharing there) and watched the Clarets record a fine 3-0 victory.

Before the match one of the walkers and birthday boy Will O’Donnell – he celebrated his 28th birthday on match day – raised a further £400 when he had his head shaved in front of the Truro club house, with City boss Rod Stringer doing the honours with the clippers.

To make a donation, the Just Giving page will be found at: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/andy-abbott

Will O’Donnell said of his experiences: “As both a Claret and a volunteer with the local branch of Mencap it has been an absolute pleasure taking on the challenge of the walk. The hair shave is obviously just a bit of fun and as it meant that extra money would be raised for our 3 causes I could hardly have said no. But it’s going to take a lot of time to get used to!”

Another walker Jon Read added: “I’ve been back in Essex less than 24 hours after the big hike, and I can safely say I’m missing the camaraderie and spirit of the group already. A hiking challenge is nothing new to most of us, but this one was different – sleep deprivation, treacherous conditions underfoot and orienteering problems made this a far difficult proposition than last year’s hike, but we all knew that failure wasn’t an option. We were stunned by the interest and generosity from friends and family around our way, but also from those further afield. The boost we all got when another donation on our JustGiving page showed up was huge, and as we walked further West, quite a few even knew of the walk. So many wanted to stop us and talk, many pressed crisp tenner’s in our hands, and others we met gave us food, shelter and the odd free beer!”

“The scenery was progressively stunning, and it all really hit home when I turned around to take a break at the top of the almost horizontal climb at Labrador Bay a few miles from Torquay to take a picture of the stunning backdrop with all our lads stretched up and straining every sinew to get up the crazy incline. Determined, stubborn, brave, generous, they are a wonderful group and a credit to Chelmsford City.”

“Thanks to Will O’Donnell’s birthday haircut, which raised over £400 alone on the day, we are now very close to £9,000 raised, which will hopefully mean £3,000 each to Chelmsford Mencap, Cool to be Kind and the club’s Community Scheme. Thanks to everyone for your support.”

City boss and barber for the day Rod Stringer sent a video message to the walkers when he told them, “What a wonderful thing you’ve done walking down to Torquay – I’m really proud of you – for massive good causes, and I will do my very best to get the players to donate as well. But I just want to say well done and congratulations on completing your task. Hopefully three points today and up the Clarets!”

Meanwhile, Cool to be Kind founder Brian McGovern said of the efforts, “Cool to be Kind have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with The Clarets and their supporters.  What the lads have achieved is  impressive. The founders, the volunteers, and the service users at Cool to be Kind are extremely grateful to the supporters.”


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