Jeffrey Long MBE, from Bingley, has clocked up thousands of miles - and a few famous fans - by taking on extreme walking challenges over the past 14 years in aid of good causes.
And the ex-paratrooper’s latest challenge saw him set off from Bradford Town Hall yesterday with the aim to walk 190 miles to raise funds for two Armed Forces charities.
The active great-grandfather was given a civic send off from the Lord Mayor of Bradford Coun Doreen Lee.
"It is great that Jeffrey gets to combine his love of walking and keeping active with raising money for some great causes," said Coun Lee. "I wish him well on his walk and hope he manages to raise lots of money."
Jeffrey, who served in the parachute regiment from 1950-1957, will walk around the hills above his beloved Bingley to clock up the miles over the next two months.
He said: “Covid has hampered my plans to an extent over the last year, so I am doubly determined to complete this challenge.”
Despite having daily chemotherapy and still suffering back pain from a training injury in 1954 Jeffrey said it was vital to raise “much needed” funds for two charities close to his heart - the Royal British Legion and Support Our Paras - the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces charity.
The Confederation of Service Charities (Cobseo), which represents 900 charities supporting service personnel and veterans, said the sector has seen an estimated reduction of £250m since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.
“Many charities have been hit hard by the pandemic, so that’s why I am so passionate about getting out there again and completing this walk," Jeffrey said.
He will walk 100 for the Legion to mark the charities centenary in 2021, plus a further 90 mile to celebrate his 90 birthday in October this year, with money going to support the Parachute Regt.
He said: "I am very proud of my time as a paratrooper and this is just my way of giving something back."
You can support Jeffrey’s fundraising efforts via his Virgin Money page here.
Jeffrey's heroic fundraising efforts
Jeffrey began fundraising 14 years ago when he first marched 650 miles from London to Lausanne in Switzerland while carrying a 30kg backpack to raise money for the Royal British Legion in 2007 - despite having never been much of a walker.
Since then, he has completed hikes for charity, including 84 miles along Hadrian's Wall and 100 miles along the south coast.
Last year the ex-paratrooper completed a 100 mile challenge to raise funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (NLI) and the Royal Air Force (RAF) Benevolent Fund.
His fundraising efforts went viral in 2017 when comedian Jason Manford appealed to his social media followers to donate to Jeffrey's JustGiving page - helping him raise more than £120,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund.
He said: "I had never done a long distance walk before I was 75. But when I got into fundraising, I discovered all these charities that need help and I can't say no."
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