A former paratrooper who won the respect and admiration of many during his months trekking the isles’ coastline for charity, is today bidding a fond farewell.
Chris Lewis arrived in Shetland last November as part of his epic walk around the UK raising funds for SSAFA to help servicemen, veterans and their families.
In the nine months that followed, Chris and his dog Jet managed to smash their initial £50,000 fundraising target – with the current total standing at more than £150,000.
The duo braved Shetland’s harsh winter – and spent lockdown holed up on the uninhabited island of Hildasay.
Chris also said he had been “blown away” by the support and generosity of the many Shetland folk who helped provide provisions and shelter during their journey.
Today, however, he is leaving Shetland behind to continue his journey, travelling first to Orkney and then Thurso before heading down the east coast.
“I came to Shetland knowing I was on the last of the islands, so it was always going to be particularly special,” he said.
“However, what I’ve experienced in my time here has been unbelievable.
“I’m so sad to be leaving but I’ve got a job to do.
“This is the end of the Shetland leg for this walk, but I’ll definitely be coming back here again.”
Chris said he felt he had earned the respect of Shetland folk who recognised just how tough it was to spend the winter outdoors.
However, he was not prepared for the amount of support and friendship he and Jet received along the way.
“The kindness has been relentless,” he said.
“That’s what helped me through the tough winter.”
Chris completed his final part of the Shetland coastline at Brae on Tuesday. Posting a message to his followers on Facebook he said. “Jet and I crossed the line to what will be the end of our islands adventures.
“I arrived on my first island having raised £6,000.
“Thanks to a wonderful push in donations today, I leave the islands with £152,232.
“Thanks you all so much for your donations; I am genuinely speechless and completely lost for words.”
Rather than catching the ferry immediately, Chris spent some time with some of the friends he and Jet had met along the way.
He expects to see some of them cheering him on in Swansea when he crosses the final finishing line, which he estimates will take another 12-18 months. Having been made an “honorary Shetlander” during his stay, Chris said he would be eager to return once his adventure had been completed.
“Once again, thank you so much for the love, support and donations to get us over £150,000,” he said.
“It’s a dream come true and every ounce of effort has been worth it.”
Visit “Chris walks UK coastline” on JustGiving to donate to his cause.