A medical photographer from Epsom and St Helier hospitals has completed a gigantic 4,350km walk – the equivalent distance between Damascus and London – to raise money for the British Red Cross.
David Farrow began his Walk in Solidarity to raise funds for the Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal, and has now raised an impressive £7,000. To cover the huge distance, and raise as much money as possible, he completed on average 100km a week, walking to and from work and tackling national trails such as the South Downs Way, North Downs Way and Greensand Way at the weekends.
Having started in September 2015, he finished at Trafalgar Square on Sunday 24 July, having set out on a 100km trek from Brighton the day before, where he was met by proud friends and family. On finishing, David said: “This is completely overwhelming. Walk in Solidarity has been one of the most important things I have ever done. There hasn’t been a single easy kilometre and the recent heatwave has made moving in the day particularly difficult. I am exhausted and in a lot of pain but I would not want any of these 4,350km to have been any different!
“I decided to start walking to help those men, women and children who were caught up in the refugee crisis, but it needs to be said that not a single part of my journey is comparable to theirs. I have been lucky to walk in some of the most beautiful parts of Great Britain, Europe and even New Zealand, and as hard as the distance has been there is nothing better than being able to enjoy the outside as a free person. My wish is that those people in the crisis can achieve the same freedom and stability that I have, in a home that is safe and secure. The journey from the Middle East to Europe is perilous and it is a huge relief to know there are Red Cross volunteers lining the route to ensure aid reaches those who need it most.
“I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and donated to the campaign – you’ve been fantastic. I’d especially like to thank my wife – she is my inspiration and drives me to be the best person I can be.”
Over 240,000 refugees have arrived in Europe this year by sea, and over 3,000 have died attempting the crossing – startling figures which helped keep David motivated to complete his remarkable challenge. David said: “The refugee crisis is still happening and remains a major humanitarian disaster. There is just as much need to get people food, water, medication and shelter as there was back in 2015, especially as some of the temperatures in Greece and Turkey are well over 30°C. My journey may be over but for thousands of men, women and children, it is just beginning, in the most dangerous conditions. If I actually had to travel from Damascus to London, I am not too sure I would have made it – that’s why I wanted to support the amazing Red Cross volunteers across Europe working around the clock to support thousands of refugees as they attempt to reach safety.”
Alex Fraser, Director of Refugee Support at the Red Cross, has been very impressed by David’s campaign. He said: “We are all so grateful to David. What an incredible achievement – the compassion and determination he has demonstrated through this great action of solidarity is an inspiration to us all. In this refugee emergency, we need more solidarity, more compassion – it is so important that we continue to remind people of just how great the needs of those seeking protection continue to be, families torn apart by conflict and persecution as they are forced to leave their homes and start on a journey for survival. No one chooses to become a refugee and hopefully David’s actions will help build understanding and inspire others to lend their support, to encourage more acts of kindness and in doing so continue to raise awareness and help those who have suffered so much already to rebuild their lives.”
David has had to complete all of his walking before and after work over the last 44 weeks, sometimes starting and finishing in darkness – his walk to work often started at 5.45am, with him returning home as late as 9pm on some nights. Chief Executive of Epsom and St Helier hospitals, Daniel Elkeles, said: “I would like to congratulate David for everything he has achieved over the last 10 months. He set about completing this incredibly challenging walk with great passion, and his dedication to helping those in need is truly inspiring. I have enjoyed hearing about his walk – I don’t know where he got his energy from, but I am glad he has stayed safe and is still in one piece, and that he has reached the remarkable goal of walking 4,350km.”
You can find out about David’s journey at www.walkinsolidarity.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/walkinsolidarity, on twitter @walksolidarity or donate by visiting www.justgiving.com/walkinsolidarity.