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UK News

94-year-old retired priest walking nearly double the length of a marathon for missions

by Tola Mbakwe

A former missionary and retired priest is walking from his house to his local church 94 times to raise money for charity.

Canon John Harwood from Hampshire said he was inspired by the extraordinary fundraising accomplishments of Captain Tom Moore, and decided he would raise money for the Church Mission Society (CMS).

His challenge means he will walk a total distance of 47 miles, nearly double the length of a marathon.

Canon John told Premier he's not letting his age stop him. 

"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. 

"My main problem is I get backache and a little rest for a few minutes sort of invigorates my back and I'm off again."

To officially mark each of his walks, Canon John deposits a numbered slip in the rectory letterbox at St James' Church. 

He raised more than £5,800 by Friday afternoon, which smashes his £1,000 goal. 

Canon John, who served as CMS missionary in Nigeria and Sierra Leone for ten 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."

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."

Listen to Premier's interview with Canon John Harwood here:

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