Octogenarians from south Warwickshire overcome hammer-wielding youths and an angry farmer to complete fundraising challenge

They recently completed their 80-mile challenge - but it wasn’t without its challenges

Claverdon’s David Burman and Robbin Suffield from Wootton Wawen are among three octogenarians en route to raising £10,000 for local hospices after walking a mile for every year of their lives.

David and Robbin were joined by friend Jeff Masters for the Triple80HospiceTrek and have already amassed more than £4,000 towards their target - but it wasn’t without

its challenges.

Left to right: Natalie Humphrey, Robbin Suffield, Jeff Masters, David Burman, Bridget Richards. Photo supplied

The Henley-in-Arden Rotary Club past, present and future presidents were inspired to walk 80 miles from Sharpness on the River Severn near Bristol to Wootton Wawen after the club’s three main fundraisers – a charity golf day, concert and Bluebell Woods parking - were among those cancelled due to the pandemic.

But, at times it was far from a smooth path, challenges including a run in with hammer-wielding youths, an angry farmer and fly-tipping, not to mention nights under canvas.

David said: “The path seemed to end so I rang and said that I would drive down one of the tracks to gain access to the Severn bank to pick the other two up.

“The first part of the drive was a farm and the farmer was not happy with my presence and told me to go away in very flowery language.

Left to right: Jeff Masters, David Burman (president) and Robbin Suffield. Photo supplied

"So I did. I then went back to another access road through an industrial estate and turned into an old car park only to find a gang of youths smashing a car with hammers.

"They immediately turned their attention to me, running towards my car waving the hammers.

"One threw his hammer toward me so I floored the pedal and fled with great speed into an area of flats.”

Robbin Suffield added: “One hot sunny day Jeff and I wasted a couple of hours, and had to retrace our steps, when the route on the outskirts of Gloucester entered an area of wasteland strewn with abandoned cars and fly-tipping.

"Although clearly marked on our up to date maps, the Severn Way Long Distance Path deteriorated into a wilderness of undergrowth and brambles which became totally impenetrable.

“And the following day we discovered that the Severn Way has recently been rerouted onto the opposite bank of the river.

“But any challenges we faced were overshadowed by the sheer fellowship and camaraderie we shared, not only among the three of us over the whole eight days, but with several people whom we met and talked to or dined or walked with, including Rotarians from fur other local clubs en route.

“We are all used to walking, having done several long distance national trails in our younger years and a few marathon and half marathon runs.”

The trio, who are all past, present and future presidents of Henley-in-Arden Rotary Club, were joined for the last seven-mile stretch of the route by representatives of two hospices - Bridget Richards, from Shakespeare Hospice and Natalie Humphrey from Myton Hospice.

Olivia Guglia from Acorns Children’s Hospice greeted them at the Navigation Inn in Wootton Wawen, along with a ceremonial welcome by the Henley Town Crier and civic dignitaries.

Jeff Masters, from Snitterfield, said: “It proved to be a brilliant adventure and we met so many kindly people on the way.

“Our objective of raising substantial money for the three hospices is well on track.

"Our other objective to raise interest in Henley in Arden Rotary Club and new members remains to be seen.

“We have, over many years, supported most community groups and activities and would like this to continue. Without new membership we are in danger of fading away to the detriment of the community.

"To like-minded people, we say please come as a visitor and see if it is for you.”

Current President David, added: “Walking along the river meadows with wild flowers, woodland and grazing sheep and cattle, our trip was quite magical with great friendship and fun throughout the whole journey.

"The many areas of bramble and stinging nettles only served to strengthen our resolve with our shorts leaving our legs to the ravages of wild countryside.”