From Captain Tom to Canon John: 94 walks for 94 years

Elderly man with stick poses under lychgate of rural church

Relishing the challenge: 94-year-old Canon John Harwood is walking to church and back 94 times to raise money for mission

Inspired by the extraordinary fundraising accomplishments of Captain Tom Moore, 94-year-old former Church Mission Society mission partner Canon John Harwood is embarking on a fundraising challenge of his own.

John is planning to do 94 walks – one for every year of his life – from his home in Nile Street, Emsworth in Hampshire, to his local church, St James’ Emsworth, a total distance of 47 miles, nearly double the length of a marathon.

Elderly man walking with stick seen from rear by small town waterside
Waterside walk: The pleasant view is a bonus as John perseveres in his challenge

John, who has never previously completed a marathon or long distance event, is managing to complete two walks every day and so far has raised more than £2,000 for CMS people in mission based in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe and the UK.

After completing walk number 32, John said he was relishing the challenge. He said, “I’ve not had any blisters but I do have to sit down to take a rest mid-walk.”

John expects it will take another month to reach his total of 94 walks. To officially mark each of his walks, he deposits a numbered slip in the rectory letterbox at St James’ Church.

John, who served as CMS mission partner in Nigeria and Sierra Leone for 10 years, explained that although he retired many years ago the work of CMS continues to inspire him.

He said, “I am thrilled by CMS’s ground-breaking mission pioneers like Rachel Karanja, who is utilising renewable energy technology to benefit local communities in Kenya through the Greenspan Biotechnologies project. I hope the money raised by this walk will help raise up many more entrepreneurs.”

Elderly man leans on stick in front of church
Made it: John deposits a slip of paper with the number of the walk through the rectory letterbox on each trip

The challenge has captured the imagination of John’s local community who have donated generously to support his effort and offered their encouragement with comments such as “Inspirational”, “CMS is lucky to have you” and “the Racing Rev”.

Alastair Bateman, CEO of Church Mission Society, said: “John’s effort is a great example of the energy, commitment, and faithful dedication characterised by CMS missionaries throughout our history. All of the CMS community is with you – praying for you, walking with you (in spirit) and willing you on, as you take on this epic challenge.”

If you would like to support John Harwood’s “94 walks for 94 years” fundraising challenge, please go to:

Published 4 June 2020
Europe, Middle East and North Africa

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