Shaftesbury estate agent Matt Boatwright is expecting to gain a few blisters from the 26-mile fundraising walk he’s undertaking across Salisbury Plain.
His marathon ramble will raise money for the forces’ charity, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) and Matt hopes Shaftesbury residents will contribute.
He’s already been on a practice walk covering just under 12.5 miles.“It’s probably the longest I have walked,” he admitted, adding that it has been painful.”My feet are in bits, but I’ve got some new walking boots on order.” Matt says that rambling isn’t his favourite pastime.“I’m not known for walking long distances, but it’s for a great cause.”
Although no members of Boatwright’s staff have served in the forces, Matt says most of his team know people who have been in the Army, Royal Airforce or Royal Navy. That’s not surprising, seeing that his company has offices in Shaftesbury, Tisbury, Amesbury and Salisbury. Our area’s strong forces connections guided the company’s choice of charity. “It was the impact that the military has on this part of the world,” said Matt.
“When we first launched Boatwrights, we got together as a group of managers and decided which charity we wanted to support,” he explained. “It was kind of unanimous that SSAFA was the one. It’s something we all feel passionate about and want to contribute to.”
The charity has trained over 5,000 volunteers to provide practical and emotional support for serving personnel, veterans and military families across the UK and worldwide. And Matt says that the SSAFA makes excellent use of the money it is donated. “SSAFA is just a fantastic charity. What with mental health issues in the news at the moment, there’s a big push on things like post-traumatic stress disorder. So again, that’s a good reason for me to get stuck in with our team. All the branch managers are doing it. So we’re going to have a bit of a team effort.”
The walk on the 2ndJune starts at Hudson’s Field in Salisbury and goes 26.2 miles across Salisbury Plain. “We’ve marked it out. It’s basically from Salisbury to Gillingham, which is a long way,” Matt laughed. “It’s a bit of a daunting task but I think once we get stuck in, if there’s a team of us, we will just keep each other going.”
Matt has committed to raising at least £1,000. I pointed out that he’s an estate agent and his profession has ‘the gift of the gab’, so surely he will bring in more? “I hope so. £1,000 is the minimum really. We’ll be able to get there, I’m sure.”
If you want to donate, Matt has set up a JustGiving page.