Friends’ holiday walk turns into big fundraising success

Sam Hills, far right, with his five friends who completed the South Downs Way walk
Sam Hills, far right, with his five friends who completed the South Downs Way walk

A trip for teenagers looking to fill their school holidays with fun turned into a brilliant fundraising success.

Six friends walked from Winchester to Whiteways to raise money for Leonard Cheshire Disability’s St Bridget’s care home in Rustington.

Organiser Sam Hills, 16, explained: “One of my friends said let’s do it for fun and I said why not do it for charity. So, we did.

“I have just finished my GCSEs and we have a long summer ahead so we were looking for things to do.”

Sam spent 18 months volunteering at St Bridget’s, initially as part of his Duke of Edinburgh gold award and then continuing. He started at the Saturday Club, which provides activities for residents.

He and his friends started their trek on last Monday and planned to finish by Friday but ended up completing the walk last Wednesday.

“We just walked,” said Sam. “We absolutely stormed it one day and then we were only 10 miles from the end, so we just finished the whole thing in three days.”

Sam has personally raised around £430 and he hopes the total for all of them will reach £1,000.

He said volunteering with St Bridget’s had been a new and exciting challenge.

“Leonard Cheshire Disability is an incredible charity that is truly amazing. It has developed me so much as a person and we wanted to support St Bridget’s and all the work it does.”

Carolyn Richards, volunteer co-ordinator, praised Sam and said his dedication had been inspiring and heart-warming.

“He has gone from a boy and become a young man, and it has been absolutely wonderful to see the change. He’s also gone from a quiet boy to an outgoing individual and actively takes part in activities.”

St Bridget’s would like to introduce more young people to the service, engaging them as volunteers.

Carolyn added: “It has become a tradition for young people to volunteer at St Bridget’s, which has created a wonderful community spirit at the home. Over the last few years, more than 15 young people have come to volunteer at the home, some starting at just 14.”

Having completed his studies at St Philip Howard Catholic High School in Barnham, Sam will be starting A-levels at Christ’s Hospital in Horsham in September.

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