A Long Walk for Freedom From Torture

Tony Hodgson - photo by Luke Smith
Tony Hodgson – photo by Luke Smith

A long Walk for Freedom from Torture

The Reverend Anthony Hodgson is celebrating his 80th birthday in a different way, “The alternative is to give a party when you are 80.  I decided to go for a walk instead.”  Tony made plans to walk the 80 miles across Peterborough Diocese.

Why such a long walk?

“I happened to come across the charity ‘Freedom from Torture’ – a patron was a former neighbour of mine, Eric Lomax who was tortured  by the Japanese while working on the Burma railway in Thailand.  They even made a movie of it – The Railway Man.  Understanding the horror and debilitation that can come with that, he contacted Medical Foundation for the Care of the Victims of Torture (now Freedom from Torture) first as a client, then later as a patron.”

This inspired Tony Hodgson to walk a mile for every year of his life to raise much-needed funds for  medical and practical help for people who have been  through persecution and suffered from organised violence.

Islip to Irthlingborough
Islip to Irthlingborough

He set out on his walk from the Peterborough Cathedral on Saturday 20 June at 11 allowing 10 days in all for the 80 mile trek.  He started each day from a place of worship –  including a Mosque and a midweek Baptist prayer meeting.

Taking a long walk is something that he has done before.  Last year he walked 25 miles along Hadrian’s wall in two days for the Church Mission Society.  “But that was different, ” Tony said, “That was up and down – this route is flat.”

Tony, who is married and has two daughters and five grandchildren, said: “Asylum seekers and refugees get a bad press but many come to this country having experienced horrific abuse and violence.”

Tony went on, “Freedom from Torture  is dedicated to helping survivors recover from the physical and psychological harm that has been done to them.”

through the forest
through the forest

How did the long walk affect Tony?

“I felt more energized by the walk than I  normally do – and far less stressed.”

Tony said that he had excellent walking companions.  Although no one travelled the entire way with him, quite a few people accompanied him for a day or two

He said that he was fortunate with the weather.  “There was one downpour – perfectly timed.  We had just left a church where we had a snack when it started to rain.  We travelled on to the barn at Wadenhoe.  By then the rain stopped, so we sat outside in the now sunny garden and dried our things fairly quickly.  We ate and were on our way.”

He said that he feels no ill effects from his travels.  His legs are fine, and for the 80 miles he only had one blister but “Compeed saved the day.”

Tony was sponsored on this walk both by personal giving and through the Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/tonyhodgson1.

Meeting Alpacas on the way
Meeting Alpacas on the way

His wife Judith supported his effort to raise the money for the charity. She was integral to elements of the long walk;  She arranged daily photos, organised the companions and was at different stages of his walk to support his journey.

Judith said,” I am so thrilled that Tony achieved it all and in such good form.  Something over £3000 was raised – once we get it all in!”

All in all, a very satisfying success.

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