Clocking up the miles in the name of charity
For most 86-year-olds, taking it easy might be par for the course, but for Yorkshire Freemason Jeffrey Long MBE, a veteran paratrooper and serial fundraiser, it’s a different story
Jeffrey has been a busy man in 2017, as a chance encounter with a stranger called Paula Modeste at Windsor train station saw his latest adventure of walking 86 miles go viral, with a ‘selfie’ photograph grabbing the attention of comedian Jason Manford and helping his fundraising for the Royal British Legion go beyond the £120,000 mark – not bad considering his original target was to reach £1,000.
Alongside interviews with the BBC and ITV, national newspapers have also helped Jeffrey gather plenty of deserved headlines as he clocked up the miles. Jason Manford even drove down to Jeffrey’s hometown of Bingley, West Yorkshire, to meet him, whilst he was invited by Chelsea Football Club to be a special guest and introduced on the pitch before their match against Manchester United on 5th November.
Following walks of 84 and 85 miles the previous two years to coincide with his age at the time, Jeffrey’s latest venture of 86 miles saw him start out at the Thames Barrier and eight days later finish in the dark in Caversham, Reading. He estimates that the time spent walking 86 miles took him a full five days to complete, as along the way he also celebrated his 86th birthday with a meal on the 32nd floor of the Shard and visited the Embassy of Switzerland to meet their Ambassador Alexandre Fasel and Guildhall to meet Chief Commoner Wendy Mead.
Jeffrey, who is on chemo treatment because his body is producing too many platelets, admits that his latest walk was not without its challenges. He said: ‘I also suffered a problem with my hamstring a few months before and by the time I started the walk, it had still not recovered. I didn’t have too much of a problem walking as long as I didn’t stride out, but when it came to going down steps, it really pulled on my hamstring and hurt like mad.
‘I loved the challenge of walking 86 miles and even though many people have said it’s extraordinary to be completing it at my age, it doesn’t really seem extraordinary to me.
‘The truth is that I’ve never really been much of a social walker. I don’t have time to train, so when it came to first preparing for these challenges, I just remember putting on some boots, walking for around an hour outside and then going ‘I’ll be fine!’
So how do you go about topping an 86 mile walk? Simple – Jeffrey is already looking ahead to the challenge of walking 87 miles next year. Not only that, he’s considering walking another 100 miles for a separate challenge and looking for a sponsor as he considers swapping the walking boots for a bike and cycling from London to Paris!
Jeffrey Long was featured in the Summer 2017 of Freemasonry Today – read his interview here.