Ex-paratrooper praises folk’s ‘outstanding’ kindness as he sets off to complete Shetland leg of UK trek

A former paratrooper has said he is “ready to smash the rest of the UK coastline” after resuming his epic fundraising trek following months of self-isolation on remote Hildasay.

Chris Lewis had been walking Shetland’s coast since October, raising funds for the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen Families Association (Ssafa) which helps members of the armed service, veterans and their families.

After the Covid-19 crisis hit, however, he had to put his plans on hold as he went into lockdown with his dog Jet in a former shepherd’s house on the isle north of Burra.

Over the past three months, he has kept his legions of supporters regularly updated on social media and seen the donations come pouring in – smashing his £100,000 target in April.

On Friday, however, Chris was able to step foot on the Mainland again for the first time in months as he left Hildasay behind.

Before setting off, he said he was preparing to “get the mind back in to beast mode ready to smash the rest of the UK coastline”.

He was “sad, and excited at the same time” to be leaving Hildasay behind.

“What and adventure the past three months have been living on our own island during lockdown,” he said.

“I will never forget it. I feel I left a part of my behind when I left and look forward to my return in years to come.”

“The love and support I have seen while being on Hildasay has been quite frankly outstanding.”

Chris offered his thanks to the folk who had helped him including Morgan Goodlad, who allowed him use of the house as well the shop in Burra which he said had been a “lifeline” for him and Jet.

“Good people form all over have been calling the shop leaving some money for when I needed supplies,” he said.

“Countless gifts, letters and cards being sent to Victor and Pauline, and to the local shop wishing us well on our journey.

“I could go on and on with acts of selfless kind gestures from people I’ve never even met. It’s amazing how people simply just want to be kind and help whatever way they can. It’s incredibly good for the soul.”

Chris had 100km left of the Shetland leg of his adventure, including two islands.

After setting off, he posted: It’s so good to be looking at the maps and getting the focus back ready to head south and cross the line in a few years time. Until then I shall continue to share my journey with you and smash my new target of £200,000. I won’t stop until its done.

Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chriswalks to donate.


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