Sixty-eight year old former soldier, Brian ‘Eddy’ Edwards, set off on Saturday 1st August from St David’s Head, Pembrokeshire, at the start of an epic 360 mile hike. He will be traversing the widest point, coast to coast, in the UK across Wales and England, ending up in Ness Point, Lowestoft, in Suffolk – all to raise vital funds for Help for Heroes.
The Welsh leg of his journey takes in the impressive landscapes and terrain of White Sands in Pembrokeshire, Whitland, Llandeilo, Sennybridge and Felinfach, before he embarks on the English stretch at Hay on Wye. While this is a big challenge for anyone to undertake, it is all the more remarkable given that Eddy was told 33 years ago that he may never walk again.
Eddy, from Colchester, had a 23 year career in the British Army where he was a Warrant Officer Class One (Regimental Sergeant Major) and travelled the world including Northern Ireland, Germany, the Falklands and Hong Kong. He subsequently became a Police Officer. However, in 1997 everything changed when he was involved in a serious road accident on the A12 in Essex and doctors told him to expect the worst about being able to walk again because of the number of breaks sustained in both legs. He also broke his arm and shoulder when he went through the car windscreen, leaving him with the use of only one arm.
He was told by the Police Force that he would need to be medically discharged but this made him more determined than ever to get on his feet. It took him three years to learn how to walk again and he made a full recovery, eventually enjoying a 20-year career as a front-line police officer.
Talking about why he has decided to take on this challenge to fundraise for Help for Heroes, he says, “I was lucky to make a full recovery after my accident, but some service personnel, have not been so fortunate while serving the country both home and abroad,. I know first-hand the impact that injury can have both on them, and those around them. Now, they and their families badly need our support. Help for Heroes does great work and deserve all the money that I hope to raise for them.”
Eddy hopes to do his walk in 10 days, averaging 35 miles a day, but has given himself up to 12 days to complete the challenge depending on how badly affected he is by compound fatigue. He is doing it solo and completely unaided, carrying all his equipment on his back, with just a tiny one-man tent to sleep in which he hopes to pitch in a suitable field at the end of each day. As well as porridge for breakfast, he is bringing with him two treats to make the walk more pleasurable – a bottle of whisky and a hot water bottle.
He hopes to inspire others to get out there and create their own fundraising events while big organised charity events have been cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. He adds, “I’ve always been a runner and still love running. While I’ve still got my health I will always want to keep on doing challenges like this – and if they can raise money for charity at the same time that’s even better.” In the past he has cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats in 9 days, run a relay from John O’Groats to Colchester and last year he cycled the same coast to coast route solo in four days.
Shelley Elgin, Community Recovery Manager for Help for Heroes in Wales and Hereford, comments, “We’re so grateful for what Eddy is doing for us – what an incredible challenge! We know from research that there has been a big increase in veterans telling us that they aren’t managing their mental and physical health so well since the start of the pandemic, so the need for support is greater than ever, but we’re also having to manage a 40% drop in income at the same time. People like Eddy, doing amazing fundraising events like this, truly are the lifeblood of the charity.”
To support Eddy’s walk across Wales and England go to his fundraising page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/brian-edwards10.