Strangers greeting and sponsoring us along the way was amazing motivation

A local Dad, who raised almost £5,000 by hiking across Wales with his dog, says he was overwhelmed by support from the Welsh business community.

David Chadwick and his wife Jessica Pilkington from Spratton set up Harry’s Fund in memory of their 19-year-old son, Harry – a unique fund which will offer grants, bursaries and loans to young adults with special needs so that they can access services at Northamptonshire charity, Teamwork Trust.

To launch the new fund, David (known as ‘Chad’ to friends), and his beloved Airedale Terrier, Nelly, trekked the historic Welsh Offa’s Dyke footpath, completing the route in just six days.

This was the most emotionally and physically difficult test of my life. I used to run marathons and competed in team events, but I still wasn’t prepared for the extent of this challenge.

Chad added, “Nelly cut her paw on day two and couldn’t walk a step on day three, so we had to adapt the plans and my blisters, bruises and pains became progressively worst over the week. By the final day every step was agony. I’m home now but still on the sofa and suspect I will be for a little while longer – but it was worth it.”

Jessica and daughter Polly joined Chad half-way, feeding him and Nelly, carrying the rucksack and picking up the duo from the finish lines.

“For the first few days it was just Nelly and I,” said Chad, “and this presented me with a unique opportunity to really think about my son. I found myself remembering moments, holidays, his sense of humour, his sayings. It was beautiful but also overwhelmingly sad at times.

“The thing that kept me going though was all the strangers greeting us and thrusting money into our hands along the way. Having fellow walkers and people from local businesses recognise us from our social media posts was amazing motivation and the support was just overwhelming. We were regularly stopped during the hike by people congratulating us and I cannot believe we have since raised so much money for such a worthwhile cause.”

Teamwork’s strategic director, John Bruce said: “Inspiring isn’t a word I use lightly but it is entirely relevant here, as this family has fought the adversity of a great loss and turned it into a positive. With difficulties surrounding Adult Social Care and the financial maze of transition from child to adult services, many young people with learning disabilities and autism slip through the net and do not receive the right support for their needs. This fund addresses that and is innovative because it allows the young person to access a service whilst parents are guided through a process they often find confusing.”

For more information on Harry’s Fund and Teamwork Trust, and to donate visit: https://www.teamworktrust.co.uk/appeal/harrysfund