Lancashire fundraisers walked across the world in virtual fundraiser for Christian Aid

A novel walk has turned the spotlight on water poverty in Kenya, the talent of an artist from Lancashire and the dedication of local walkers.

A virtual 10,000 km walk across the world, devised by Lancashire Christian Aid supporters, has raised more than £1,146 for the charity.

Clare Hyde who lives near Longridge is used to doing sponsored walks for Christian Aid week. But this year she decided on a more ambitious project.

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Teaming up with the Ribble Valley Christian Aid group and working with the local Churches Together group, it was decided that fundraisers would walk the equivalent of travelling from from Ribble Valley to Kenya, walking through 15 countries.

This painting by Geoff Holmes marked the walkers' "arrival" in Khartoum in Sudan.

Clare said: "Obviously, with COVID restrictions amongst others, this wasn’t possible in reality, but proved successful virtually. I think most people's walks were fairly local! "

She continued: "The group, of about 50 people, raised £1,136, by donating to join the journey, then logging distances walked each week, adding them up collectively, and progressing along the route, which took them out through Western, then Eastern Europe, the Middle East and down through Egypt and Sudan to Kenya. "

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Keen amateur artist Geoff Holmes from Clitheroe decided to illustrate the travels and his watercolour paintings of locations ranging from Holland to Istanbul to Khartoum and finally Kenya, were shared on a special Facebook page as the group's collective mileage progressed the journey.

Geoff, who is retired from a career in social services and is coordinator of the Ribble Valley Christian Aid group said: said: "There are 12 pictures in total. I've always enjoyed painting and drawing and since I've retired it's been a hobby of mine."

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Part of a painting by Geoff Holmes illustrating the beginning of the fundraising walk

Clare said: "The pictures raised a smile and obviously we learned quite a bit about places we didn't know anything about."

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Another big encouragement came with a support video prepared by members of the King's Highway Church in Eldoret, near Nairobi, which twins with St James' church in Clitheroe.

Clare said: "It was wishing us well on our journey, but was also showing how climate change is really affecting them. It was quite shocking really the extremes - you think of Africa as very dry but they had torrential rain with the dry weather and got terrible flooding and soil washed away."

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She said the walk had been good not just for the funds raised but for the awareness it alsoraised of Christian Aid's work and the need to improve Kenyan communities' access to water. She said: "From drought to flooding climate change robs people of control over their lives ... We so take water for granted."

Clare Hyde pictured on a previous fundraising walk
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She said during the current pandemic lack of water would also also mean basic preventative handwashing could not be done, making people more susceptible to catching Coronavirus.

The cash raised, which will be boosted by Gift Aid donations, will be used to fund irrigation schemes in Kenya and provide access to clean fresh water.

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This paintingby Geoff Holmes marked the walkers' "arrival" in Timisoara, Romania
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A painting by Geoff Holmes to mark the walkers' arrival in Istanbul
A painting of cycling in Holland by Geoff Holmes marked an earlier stage of the marathon virtual walk
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This illustration by Geoff Holmes marked the completion of the fundraising walk for Christian Aid