British Army veteran to spend 68th birthday on a 500-mile charity trek
- Credit: Peter Garner
An army veteran from Backwell will walk a 500-mile pilgrimage in Northern Spain for Care for Casualties, the charity for wounded veterans of The Rifles Infantry Regiment.
Peter Garner served in the British Army’s largest infantry regiment for 17 years before voluntarily leaving in 1992.
Now 67 years old, Peter will spend his 68th birthday walking 15 miles, with 20lbs of essential travel kit on his back.
The journey is known as the Camino de Santiago – The Pilgrim Way of St James – and will take Peter from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in North West Spain, beginning on August 30.
Peter said: “The idea came a few years ago as a retirement plan and I have been determined to get it done.
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“If Covid-19 spoils plans in Spain, I will finish in France or the UK.
“Originally, I intended to begin in April but the coronavirus restrictions stopped that. Once an airbridge was made, the plan was back up and running.”
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France is currently listed as a travel destination with no self-isolation requirements.
Peter added: “Once plans seemed to be back on, I upped my training schedule.
“I walk the trails around my house in Backwell, currently I walk 10 miles a day with my rucksack but soon I will reach 15 miles as that is the required pace.”
On Peter’s back is around 20lbs of equipment to keep him going on his journey, including guide books, food and a phrase book to interact with people on his way.
The pilgrimage will take 35 days or more for Peter to complete, something he is happy to do for ‘family’.
He said: “The regiment is like a family. Often you have larger charities take the limelight and even though they carry out great work, regiment charities do not get the same support to help localised areas such as North Somerset.”
Currently, £3,230.95 of the £5,000 target has been raised for the charity which helps wounded soldiers or their next of kin cope following a conflict.
Peter added: “Because the Iraq or Iran wars are no longer televised, people think the trauma is done with. There are many people, young people, still suffering.”
Care for Casualties currently tend to 300 seriously wounded soldiers - including 30 suffering with the loss of one or more limbs, two permanently blinded, two in lifetime neurological care and many suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
To contribute towards Peter’s sponsored walk, log on to www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PeterGarner2