Lindfield Oxfam worker takes on Trailwalker Gurkha challenge

DM151260a.jpg. Haywards Heath and Crawley Oxfam shop deputy manager George Thacker  has completed the Oxfam Trailwalker event.'Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150408-224143008
DM151260a.jpg. Haywards Heath and Crawley Oxfam shop deputy manager George Thacker has completed the Oxfam Trailwalker event.'Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150408-224143008
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An Oxfam shop manager in Haywards Heath has completed the charity’s arduous Trailwalker challenge.

George Thacker, 25, from Lindfield, who is deputy manager of the Oxfam shop in Haywards Heath, finished the 100km walk early on the morning of the July 26.

Competitors work as a team of four and must complete the South Downs course in under 30 hours. George’s team included two Oxfam colleagues and they completed the course in 24 hours and eight minutes.

This year 417 teams took part in the endurance challenge which was set up by Gurkhas, who are celebrating 200 years as part of the British Army.

George said that the importance of the Gurkhas to Oxfam could not be understated following the increased publicity after the Nepal earthquake.

He said: “Oxfam has a very powerful and inspiring message which is very motivating.

“The whole thing was a huge challenge, but its a beautiful part of the country which made it an almost pleasurable experience, except for the blisters.”

He praised volunteers at Oxfam stores, as well as regular customers for their support throughout and noted them as a key motivation for completing the event.

The challenge started life as a Gurkha military training programme in Hong Kong and now serves to test participants’ physical and mental resolve along the picturesque south coast.

The distance covered is the equivalent of two and half back to back marathons with an average completion time of 27 hours.

However, the Gurkha Rifles 1 team completed the course in an extraordinary nine hours and 58 minutes, just eight minutes shy of the course record.

With the route lined with spectators and supporters, participants were roared to the line.

Captain Matt Bennett of the Queen’s Gurkha Signals said: “Every year we are amazed by the support of the public and this year, the 200th anniversary of Gurkha service to the British Crown, was very special.”

Each team taking part had to raise a minimum of £1,500, with the total amount raised expected to smash the £1 million mark soon. Proceeds from fundraising will be split equally between the Gurkha Welfare Trust and Oxfam.

The funds raised will go towards Oxfam’s Nepal earthquake relief effort which occurred about three months ago. The Gurkha Welfare Trust helps to fund families who have been affected by the devastation.

The event has been running for eighteen years and it is hoped that it will raise even more money next year.

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