Sudbury fundraiser puts best foot forward as Afghanistan crisis inspires 1,000-mile walking challenge in aid of Suffolk Refugee Support
As the start of 2021 rolled around, Hugh Turner set himself a personal challenge of walking 1,000 miles over the course of the year.
But after reflecting upon the desperate scenes of the Afghanistan refugee crisis, amid the turmoil of the Taliban takeover of the country earlier this year, the 75-year-old decided he wanted his long-distance effort to benefit others.
Mr Turner, of Normandie Way in Bures, is now seeking sponsorship support of “one penny per mile”, with the goal of raising £1,000 before the end of the year, to go towards Suffolk Refugee Support.
The organisation provides practical support to refugees and asylum seekers settling in Suffolk, including rehousing, English language education, employment advice and legal assistance.
“Most people are doing the challenge to get fit,” he said. “It’s a real community. There’s a huge amount of support between walkers.
“For me, it then crossed over into what was happening in Afghanistan, and the desperation of the people who had to get out and need help.
“It was just the feeling of sadness and horror to what could happen to anyone the Taliban took, against and the desperate need for people to get out of Afghanistan.
“There are people coming to Britain as refugees for all sorts of reasons from many places, but the situation in Afghanistan struck me, and I wanted to help.”
Mr Turner, who took up running in his late 60s and switched to walking to stay active during the coronavirus lockdown, said that, while walking, he kept in his mind those who endured long walks to escape the conflict, oppression and famine.
He has covered hundreds of miles since the start of the year, most of which have been in and around Bures.
With less than 80 days to go before the end of 2021, he welcomed donations of any size towards his target, stating he will continue to raise what money he can even after he reaches 1,000 miles.
“It makes such a huge difference to Suffolk Refugee Support,” he added. “For me, the satisfaction comes from being able to help them to this extent, but, from their point of view, £1,000 will help them a huge amount.”