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Child pilgrims walk to publicise green issues

02 November 2006

CHILDREN from Exeter Cathedral School were due to arrive at Downing Streeyesterday, after completing a six-day, 90-mile pilgrimage from Canterbury tLondon to raise awareness of green issues.

The group, aged between nine and 14, were to present the Prime Minister wita petition calling on the Government to act to halve school waste by 2010; tissue carbon credit cards limiting individual carbon spends; and to require alnew buildings to be eco-friendly.

They have been staying overnight in schools, churches, and youth hostelsExpressions of support for their initiative have come from a number of figuresincluding Prince Charles, David Cameron, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and thsinger Chris Martin of Coldplay, a former pupil at the school. The childrenamed the walk ECO MAD: Every Child's Opportunity To Make A Difference.

Their teacher, Dana Bagnall, organised the pilgrimage on behalf of thchildren. Speaking from Bexley on Tuesday evening, the fifth day of the walkshe said: "Children who've never taken a walk have done 75 miles, and araiming for the full 90. We set out to be the Body of Christ and help each otheout, and what we've really learned is how to take care of each other. It's beemarvellous to see their strength, their resilience, their humour, and theihumility."

Oliver Price, who graduated from the cathedral school last year, and whosclass suggested the walk, was exhilarated by it. "The weather batters you, buyou just love it. The farmland is wonderful to walk on, and the views have beespectacular," he said. "If it was without pain, you wouldn't know you were on pilgrimage."

Bridget Sissons, aged nine, had also done the full 75 miles. "At first found it really hard, and then I got used to it. It's exciting." When askewhat she would do when she reached Downing Street, she said: "Probably justell other people to look after the world."

The group were to meet Ben Bradshaw, the Labour MP for Exeter, on CollegGreen, and to receive a blessing from Canon Jane Hedges at Westminster AbbeyThey were also due to visit Lambeth Palace, to be welcomed by Claire Fosterwho holds the C of E's brief for science and environmental issues, and DaviShreve, chairman of the Conservation Foundation.

Mrs Foster said on Tuesday: "It seems that the kind of energy the childrehave put into it and the commitment they have shown should produce an equacommitment on the other side - how much more loudly can you say to your electerepresentative, 'Please will you do something?'"

Mrs Foster and Mr Shreve were planning to assure the children of the Churcs support. The Shrink-ing the Footprint and Parish Pump activist programmshowed the C of E "taking steps to put our actions where our mouth is", MrFoster sai

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