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Cambridgeshire man and his friend plan global 'walk from home'

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Oakington man Mark Woods-Nunn and adventurer James Ketchell have rebooted their charity walk amid lockdown – and have invited people all over the world to join in too.

James Ketchell and Mark Woods-Nunn
James Ketchell and Mark Woods-Nunn

The friends had been planning to walk from Cambridge to Paris for charity last March, but Covid-19 put paid to that plan.

The 265-mile French odyssey would have begun from Cambridge Assessment’s Cambridge office, where Mark works as an operations team leader, to Cambridge Assessment’s Paris office, raising money for the Epilepsy Society and FND Action, charities that support neurological conditions that Mark has.

When that was cancelled less than 24 hours before they were due to set off, they hoped instead to walk nearly 60 miles from Cambridge to Hunstanton on the Norfolk coast this March, but with that endeavour in doubt too, the determined pair have devised a pandemic-proof plan.

Their ‘walk from home’ project is designed so that people all over the world can walk with the pair from their own location between Monday, March 22 and Friday, March 26.

Mark says they have people in several countries signed up already – and his goal is to have every continent represented. Walkers will be encouraged to share their pictures, videos and stories via social media.

James, who is also known as ‘Captain Ketch’, is the only person known to have completed the ultimate triathlon of rowing across the Atlantic, climbing Mount Everest and cycling 18,000 miles around the world.

Adventurer James Ketchell
Adventurer James Ketchell

He and Mark will deliver free webinars and daily YouTube videos, and plan to talk to schools along the way. Their focus has moved from fundraising to group participation and the fostering of a global community.

The pair say they hope to remind people that we are all in this situation together, that we can work within the restrictions we face and still achieve our goals.

Mark, who first met and became friends with James at a friend’s wedding, says: “The plan was to raise funds and awareness for epilepsy and functional neurological disorder (FND).

"I was thinking I’d worked in Paris as a photographer and a teacher, it’s a place I really like, so I thought why not? I just really like the idea of being able to walk out the door and walk somewhere. I’m not able to drive so my main mode of transport really is my feet.

“I think one of the positives that’s come out of lockdown is the fact that people maybe are getting out and about and getting fresh air, although it’s a bit limited at the moment.”

If Mark and James do manage to make the trip walking to Hunstanton, they will walk from Mark’s home in Oakington to Hunstanton via Peddars Way, a centuries-old footpath.

Mark Woods-Nunn
Mark Woods-Nunn

“That’s hopefully what we’re going to be doing but the alternative is if we can’t go anywhere, we will both of us walk in the areas where we live. But it’s not just about us because we’ve got people internationally doing something.

“The point is it’s encouraging people to get outside and get some fresh air and walk. We’re still showing that regardless of circumstances, you can make something work.”

James said: “I think we just have to use it as an opportunity to demonstrate that sometimes things don’t always go the way you want them but as long as you try your best, you’re always able to salvage something and do something.”

Though the lockdown has severely curtailed his outdoor activities, James has taken this attitude on board. “With every crisis, you’ll always find an opportunity,” he said, “and I have used this opportunity to write my next book.

"It’s called It’s All Mental, and it talks a lot about some of the expeditions I’ve been involved with that haven’t quite gone my way, like being rescued in the Indian Ocean when my rowing partner and myself got into difficulty.

“So I’ve experienced stratospheric highs, but I’m fairly well qualified to talk about crushing lows as well. I worked on that [the book] all of last year and it now launches in March, so it probably coincides with our walk.”

You can find out more about the walk at facebook.com/cambridgetopariswalk and instagram.com/walkingfromhomeglobal/.

James’s YouTube channel can be viewed at youtube.com/user/JKpushinglimits.

Read more:

Cambridge man links up with adventurer James Ketchell on fundraising walk to Paris

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