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Walking for help

16 January 2015

HARRY BUCKNALL (centre), an author and former Major in the Coldstream Guards, was appalled when he found that two of his former Guardsmen had been living rough since leaving the Army. He would have moved heaven and earth to help them, he said. Instead, he led a walk from Child Okeford, in the Salisbury diocese, to St Paul's Cathedral, to raise money for the Walking With The Wounded appeal for homeless veterans.

He was accompanied by his friend and former army driver, Jock Davis (right), now a sergeant in the Metropolitan Police, and others joined them on their six-day journey through Salisbury, Andover, Basingstoke, and Windsor. Between them, they raised more than £13,500.

"Our journey started", he says, "after a blessing by the Rector at holy communion [at St Nicholas's, Child Okeford]. . . Jock played us out of church with his bagpipes as we processed down to the cross, before hurried goodbyes and much waving as we turned the bend towards Iwerne and the long haul up Sutton Hill."

Although the weather was kind, the early part of the way was muddy and "more like the Somme than a country lane". They were thankful that they did not have to sleep out like those in whose name they were walking.

They passed the old barracks on Salisbury Plain, and entered London from Weybridge, and finally arrived in the Square Mile at dusk on the Friday evening, as bars were overflowing with pre-Christmas celebrations.

With the companions who had joined them during the previous six days, they were greeted on the steps of the Royal Exchange by a large crowd. The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres (left), the Band of the Coldstream Guards, and the Military Wives' Choir were all there to sing carols and to mark the end of their journey.

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