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John Harwood finish line banner.jpg
John Harwood finish line.jpg
UK News

94-year-old retired priest completes massive mission of 94 walks for Christian charity

by Tola Mbakwe

A retired priest and former missionary has completed the major feat of walking from his home to his church 94 times. 

Canon John Harwood from Emsworth in Hampshire came up with the idea of doing one walk for every year of his life to raise money for the Church Mission Society, where he used to work. 

In June, one month into his challenge, he told Premier he had to overcome tiredness, sore feet and backache. 

"I aim to do two walks a day in the evenings. I like to have a rest two or three times on each walk. I have favourite spots for seats. If they're occupied I prop myself up against the post and then there's a bus shelter I come to and sit down for just a few minutes," he said.

Canon John's fundraising goal was £1,000, but well-wishers helped him smash the target by donating £14,000, including Gift Aid. 

Church Mission Society
John Harwood

It took him 47 days to walk the total of 47 miles. When he reached his goal last Friday, the local community cheered him on at the finish line, which was St James Church. 

Alastair Bateman, CEO of Church Mission Society, met Canon John for a celebration at the church. 

He said:  "John's willingness to put himself on the line like this echoes the selfless sacrifice of countless men and women who have served in CMS throughout its history, putting the needs and wellbeing of others above their own comfort."

Rt Rev Dr Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester and a former leader of Church Mission Society, added his congratulations: "I wholeheartedly commend John for his splendid effort. His vision, commitment and perseverance are an example to us all, one which I hope will inspire people's generosity to support the work of Church Mission Society around the world."

With the finishing line in sight, Canon John dispelled rumours that the record of marathon runner Fauja Singh - for the oldest person to complete the London Marathon - would be in his sights: "I'm quite looking forward to a rest," he said.

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