A police sergeant walks 260 miles from Cornwall to London – with no money, no food and no plans for where to sleep each night.
Veteran fundraiser Tom Harrison, 46, may be better known as “Mr. Gorilla”, but this time he has ditched the furry suit for the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
On his latest charity mission, he’s relying on the “kindness of strangers” to complete the trek he began in Land’s End on September 12.
We met the father of two somewhere near Taunton after running about 20 miles a day for ten days.
He felt tired but motivated and had managed to find a place to put his sleeping bag every night, whether it was someone’s summer house in the garden, a tent or an empty hotel room.
“To get people to give me food on the go, all I have to do is knock on people’s doors and tell them my story and then hope they at least give me some,” he told Metro.co. United Kingdom.
“It’s not always what I want — I’ve had a lot of bananas and apples, and sometimes I just need a sandwich!” So I always throw in, ‘Do you have bread?!’
Perhaps those who helped him with fruit were thinking of his gorilla alter ego after he briefly rose to fame for crawling through the London marathon and raising over £24,000 for the gorilla organisation.
This time he has so far raised £3,763 for the Ukraine Crisis Appeal, run by the British Red Cross Society.
Of course, he hasn’t been well received by everyone he tries to get help from – as some find it a bit strange that a stranger would ask to sleep in their garden.
Recalling an occasion in Cornwall, he told Metro.co.uk he could see an outbuilding in a garden and asked: “Any chance I could sleep at your summer house?”
“They said, ‘Oh no, we take safety very seriously.’ Which is fair enough. There’s no point in arguing with anyone.
“At the end of the day, I ask something of you. You have the right to either say no or even walk away, and I just have to accept that.
‘And then also knowing that there will always be something else.’
He had better luck in Camelford when a couple named Annie and Geoff let him sleep at their summer cottage – and even cooked him some chili.
Another man with a summer house – as well as a pool and Grade II listed walled garden – also let him stay at Durston, near Taunton, and also cooked a bowl of pasta.
And a woman in Bruton, Somerset even gave him a hand-knitted doll wearing the colors of the Ukrainian flag after he stopped to chat.
“I’ll give it to a Ukrainian kid who lives with my mate’s friend when I get back to London,” he said.
Tom, who took a leave of absence from the Metropolitan Police in London to take up the challenge, said he tries to be casual when asking for help – even if he hasn’t found anything to eat in ages.
“Even if I’m starving or really worried that there’s nowhere to stay, I don’t show it,” he explains.
‘Because my despairing looks could go over to them and they would then think, actually we don’t want this guy here!’
By 5 p.m., he’s ready to leave his backpack somewhere as it “gets pretty cold at night – close to zero, so I don’t really want to be outside.”
To explain things, he has his charity page on hand as he knocks on doors to show people why he’s taking on the challenge.
Some strangers have helped him, but he’s also had success with hotels like the Holiday Inn near Bodmin letting him sleep in an unbooked room in the evenings.
He also reached out to some distant relatives who lived along the route, whose numbers his mother had given him beforehand, and was picked up by one at the curb on a particularly desperate night.
Most of his route takes him along less busy roads, so he believes he will end up walking significantly further than the 263 miles he would cover on main roads.
His motivation to keep going is the fundraisers on his JustGiving page and thinking about the hardships faced by the people of Ukraine who have now been seven months in a war of aggression started by their larger neighbor Russia.
“People still need help, so I went on this slightly crazy hike,” he said.
Despite the lack of regular food or bedding, what he misses most is his sons, ages nine and eleven.
They have cheered him on with videos from home in Amersham and have embarked on their own mini walks in solidarity.
He believes he can reach London in about a week, anytime from Thursday.
The finish line will be in Parliament Square, where he hopes to meet someone significant to celebrate the completion.
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/09/24/police-sergeant-relying-on-strangers-to-walk-from-lands-end-to-london-with-no-money-17425700/ Police sergeant relies on strangers running from Land's End to London with no money