Eleven-year-old Katie Purchase has completed the final leg of her 262-mile walk for the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) at RAF Benson today (2 September).
Katie was inspired to complete a walking challenge for CALM by former actor Ryan Thomas, who walked 10 marathons in 10 days for the charity earlier this year. She wanted to replicate his walk to help raise awareness and funds but, at the age of just 11, her parents convinced her to set a more sensible target.
Despite not being a fan of walking, Katie chose to walk 262 miles from the day after Ryan finished his challenge (21 May) until the day before she started secondary school (2 September). Today she walked the last 3.4 miles of her challenge around the domestic site at RAF Benson and she was joined by two surprise supporters.
Without Katie knowing, her parents Jon and Chloe had been speaking to Ryan Thomas. They were thrilled when Ryan asked if he could join Katie on her final leg, along with his friend and fellow actor Chris Fountain, who has supported Ryan through his own walking challenge. This was kept as a secret from Katie until the start of the walk and she was overcome with emotion when she saw them both at the starting line.
Katie said: “I had recently learnt about mental health and the problems people go through because of this so I wanted to raise money to help them and to hopefully save lives. I really hate walking so this was a huge challenge for me, but I persevered and I did it! It’s amazing that Ryan and Chris are here. He’s been an inspiration to me, and I can’t believe he came to join us on the last few miles!”
Ryan is an ambassador for the CALM charity and had previously given Katie an encouraging shoutout on his social media channels. Speaking to the crowd gathered at the finish line, he said: “I never thought I’d be an inspiration to anyone. To see this young girl challenge herself to raise funds for CALM is amazing and I hope she inspires other young boys and girls too. The money that Katie’s raised can really make a difference to someone else and will fund a lot of life-saving calls. The more people that know about CALM and the incredible job that they do 24hrs a day the better. We’re so happy for Katie, she’s amazing!”
Katie was cheered across the finish line at her former primary school on the base by her parents and siblings as well as friends, RAF Benson Community Primary School staff, and RAF Benson personnel. She set out to raise £100 for CALM but so far has raised over £1700, partly thanks to the online support Ryan has given to her fundraising.
You can find out more about Katie's fundraising here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/katiepurchase262
You can find out more about CALM and get help from their team here: https://www.thecalmzone.net/