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Swaffham 80-year-old to walk 100 miles to help mental health charity and sports club

An 80-year-old man will be walking more than 100 miles in less than a week to raise funds for two Swaffham causes.

Peter Harris is fundraising for the Merle Boddy Day Care Centre, which provides care for people with mental illness within the local community.

As vice president of Swaffham Rugby Club, the Swaffham walker will be sharing the funds raised between the Merle Boddy and the North Pickenham Road club.

Peter Harris is pictured outside the Merle Boddy Centre in Swaffham, which he is raising funds for. Picture: SUBMITTED
Peter Harris is pictured outside the Merle Boddy Centre in Swaffham, which he is raising funds for. Picture: SUBMITTED

His walk will start on September 15 in Great Yarmouth, with the intention of finishing in Thetford five days later.

The active man has previously taken part in five marathons during the 1980s, including the London Marathon on two occasions. He has also had experience of the Pennine Way, Hadrians Wall and Peddars Way challenges.

A statement on Swaffham Rugby Club's website says: "Another marvellous effort by our 80-year-old vice president, who regularly attends lunches and is often seen litter picking during the week to help keep the field tidy.

"Good Luck Peter, and I hope you are well supported."

A Just Giving page has been set up with a fundraising target of £1,000. It reads: "Peter is now admitting to being in his 80th decade of life, but his fitness and determination has not wilted with age and experience.

"This latest challenge will follow The Angles Way, which features a combination of established historic highways and footpaths, traversing from the Norfolk Broads to the Suffolk Brecks. His journey will be scheduled over a continuous period of six days and will cover more than 100 miles."

Plans are in place for the Merle Boddy Centre to resume its day care services before the end of September.

There will be reduced numbers of clients each day due to the extra space required for social distancing.

Director Ian Pilcher said: "Fortunately, we have been well supported during the lockdown by Norfolk County Council Adult Social Care and the furlough scheme has retained our personnel. We also received a substantial donation to assist us, so our economy remains stable.

"Obviously we are now incurring substantial costs for special PPE and other fixtures and fittings, to enable us to offer services.

"But this will be money well spent and carefully controlled, because our objective is to restore service to those who so treasure our care, social communication and a change from their restricted domain."

For more information on the centre visit www.merleboddy.org.uk/.

Mr Harris' fundraising page can also be found at https://justgiving.com/campaign/walknorfolk.

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