Taking steps to retrace path back to source of Thames

PUBLISHED: 12:36 12 August 2008 | UPDATED: 16:26 05 May 2010

Pictured, left to right, are Alan Doggett, Tony Norgan, Charles Smith and Stephen Dyer

Pictured, left to right, are Alan Doggett, Tony Norgan, Charles Smith and Stephen Dyer

FOUR walkers are driving forward for a 210-mile charity walk to raise £40,000 for a minibus for Hitchin Helping Hands. Alan Doggett, Stephen Dyer, Tony Norgan and Charles Smith are retracing the steps of a Thames path walk undertaken in 2004 - b

FOUR walkers are driving forward for a 210-mile charity walk to raise £40,000 for a minibus for Hitchin Helping Hands. Alan Doggett, Stephen Dyer, Tony Norgan and Charles Smith are retracing the steps of a Thames path walk undertaken in 2004 - but this time they are doing the route in reverse.

Four years ago Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins, chartered surveyor Tony Norgan and solicitor Stephen Dyer walked from the start of the Thames near Cirencester in Gloucestershire to the Barrier and raised £23,000 for prostate cancer and The Town Centre Initiative.

This September the Fantastic Four are walking an average of 20 miles a day upstream from the Barrier, for the Back to the Source walk.

They are being supported by fellow members of Tilehouse Rotary Club and will be joined by others for sections of the walk but they also need sponsorship and support from Hitchin residents and businesses.

"Hitchin Helping Hands is a wonderful charity that helps the disabled and their carers. They desperately need a new minibus to take their members out and about," said Alan who runs the Town Fryer fish and chip shop in Hitchin.

"This charity has touched our hearts. We met Joan Kirby who runs it and she is an amazing woman. We researched it and looked at their situation and the state of their minibuses, what they did and who benefits.

"Tilehouse Rotary is very keen to do something for the local community and this charity is so deserving of our help. Please come and join us for a day or two or sponsor the trek."

Among the events planned to boost the appeal is an awareness day in Market Place on Saturday, September 13, two days before the walk starts. It will include activities like a tea dance, human fruit machine and bric-a-brac.

The walkers are training regularly and members of the Tilehouse Rotary have taken care of practical details such as booking hotels and setting up the website. One of the Helping Hands minibuses will act as a back-up vehicle.

Alan is confident he can complete the walk even though he is what he calls a "social walker". His wife Lesley has been acting as his trainer.

"I would have struggled without her," said Alan who is 55.

"The problem with everyone is time but we will finish."

North Herts district councillor Joan Kirby, of Helping Hands, hopes to join the walk for a day or two. She said she was very grateful to Tilehouse Rotary.

"We really do need a new minibus," she said.

"Our three are all getting old and costing us a lot of money to run."

About eight drivers take up to 300 people a week on outings to places like the supermarket, lunch clubs and the seaside. Many are in wheelchairs.

For more details call Alan Doggett on 01462 621952 or look on the website www.backtothesource.org.uk

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