When Steve strode out on The Pennine Way

Twenty miles from Garrigill to Greenhead; the second half all bog

On The Way

If at first you don’t succeed…

When Steve Binks set out on his RSBF fundraising challenge in April 2016 he didn’t bank on the unseasonably severe weather. His plan was to set-off from Edale in Derbyshire and complete the 268 mile route to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland in approximately two-weeks.  He told us “I’ll be self supported carrying my own tent and food, though I may use the occasional hostel, bunkhouse and cafe if discovered on route.”

Hostelries and respite were few and far between but stoically Steve battled for nine gruesome days, covering a remarkable 136 miles before the elements – snow storms, gale-force winds and extremely low temperatures – forced him to postpone the trek; it was simply too dangerous to continue.

At that point many would have thrown-in the towel; sponsors had pledged money and we know all would have felt his efforts to date were more than valiant and worthy. Not Steve; with true grit and determination he vowed to complete the walk during his summer leave. His Just Giving blog declared: “I’m going back to finish the remaining 120 miles. I’ll be setting off from Middleton in Teesdale in August with the intention of reaching the finish at Kirk Yetholm. Thanks to all who’ve supported me. Hopefully I’ll finish it this time.”

 

Taking to the hills again

Next time I’ll stick to walking the dog! 

True to his word, on the 16th August Steve was back on “The Way”. The first day he hiked from Middleton in Teesdale to Dufton, a distance of some 20 miles. The next day he covered the 16 miles from Dufton to Garrigill crossing four peaks including Cross Fell; the highest peak in the Pennines. Day three was in theory a 20 mile hike from Garrigill to Greenhead but in practice the second half was a bog – so more splurge and squish than stride and march. Thursday’s trek from Bellingham to Hadrian’s Wall was a little drier but needless to say the torrents returned.  “The rain joined me for most of the last two days and nights – Friday to Byrness and beyond to a refuge hut and Saturday to Kirk Yetholm.”

 

Target Achieved

Steve finished the walk on schedule and, at 02.19 on Sunday 21st August 2016 he sent a message to the RSBF with the magic words:

“Finished. Glad I’ve made it, though next time I think I’ll stick to walking the dog!”

Steve you’re a stalwart. Thank-you for going to such lengths for us, for raising money, for not giving-up and for being so singularly determined to help us, help others.

Finally, both Steve and we at The RSBF want to say a massive thank-you to all who sponsored him to the sprightly tune of £500, ensuring he reached his fundraising goal. The money will make a genuine and heartfelt difference to fellow serving and retired Signallers who are in need or distress.

 

Steve's top fundraising tips

It was touching to receive sponsorship and words of encouragement from complete strangers.

The blanket email

Close family, friends and colleagues will normally support each other but it’s how we pique the interest and support of a wider community that’s tricky.

I sent a blanket email to more than 170 friends and colleagues but with fewer than 5 per cent responding and subsequently sponsoring it’s clear this approach doesn’t yield a high return and although it’s great to get any response this shouldn’t be used in isolation.

Keep telling the story

The RSBF website, connected to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook helped to spread the message. It was touching to receive sponsorship and words of encouragement from complete strangers. I am conscious that I didn’t send enough updates and photos to allow the RSBF to keep the story going online. Its not always possible on this kind of trip – but I’d try to make sure any future events factored this in (and of course try to combat things beyond my control such as Network coverage).

I’d really encourage anyone whose aim is to raise money as much as possible – rather than just to complete the challenge – to provide the words and pictures so those back home, running social media and PR can tell the story.

Be like Steve...