Help for Heroes volunteer walked from her great uncle's war grave in France to his home in Retford

A woman whose Retford-born great uncle died in the First World War has walked in his memory.

Monday, 15th July 2019, 1:23 pm
Clare Brumby in the Hope on the Horizon Garden at the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Colchester

Clare Brumby's great uncle, John Markham, was born in Retford in 1891. He served in the Machine Gun Corps and sadly lost his life in a field hospital in France on May 27, 1918.John Markham is buried in Doullens Communal Cemetery, Somme in France.Clare, who lives in Kings Lynn in Norfolk, has just completed a 304-mile walk starting at the grave of John Markham in Doullen, France, and finishing at his home in Retford, 14 days later.Clare said: “I wanted to do the walk home my Great Uncle, and countless others, were never able to complete. Many of our wounded, injured and sick veterans today are not able to walk the distances I did, so it helped me to get through the challenge."Clare volunteers for Help for Heroes and her walk raised £1,700 for the military charity.Clare said: "Every day seven people are medically discharged from the Armed Forces. Many struggle, meaning that they and their families need help to aid recovery from wounds; both visible and hidden. Imagine your life changing overnight. Suddenly, the world you knew is no longer accessible. You must start from scratch, all over again."With my connection to the Armed Forces I wanted to play my part in giving those who are prepared to put their lives on the line for us a second chance at life."My Great Uncle never got that second chance, so I wanted to do the walk home that he, and countless others, never got the chance to do. He was just 27 when he died."I now have a son of a similar age, so his sacrifice really resonates with me."Clare, and her husband Scott who followed behind in a motorhome, had a truly wonderful experience on the challenge.She trekked on average 20 miles a day with the longest being 28 miles in one day. She trekked through hilltops and cities with the people of France being very welcoming.In particular, Clare remembers an elderly gentleman who gave her all the change in his pocket and a campsite who donated the night’s pitch fee.She said: “The experience has given me an enormous sense of achievement. You really can do anything if you put your mind to it."It wasn’t always a positive experience though. I had two blisters on day one and 15 by the end of it. I even lost five toenails by the end of the walk,"I had five different pairs of shoes to choose from to aid me and at one point even walked nine miles in flip-flops."It took my feet about a week for the swelling to go down. Many of our wounded, injured and sick veterans today are not able to walk the distances I did, so it helped me to get through the challenge."When I got home, people wanted to take me out for a congratulatory meal but all I wanted to do was take my shoes off, have a shower and a cup of tea."Clare has also visited the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Colchester to see for herself how funds raised benefit the recovery of wounded, injured and sick veterans and serving personnel.She said: “Working in a hospital its sometimes easy to see patients as conditions rather than people."The fact that the Recovery Centre takes a holistic approach is incredible and shows respect to the individuals involved. To be able to offer all these facilities and services is amazing."It’s been a real eye-opener and I would be honoured to raise money for the charity in the future. Help for Heroes did more than just send me a ‘thank you’ letter."They have invited me to see the charity in action which is really nice and I can guarantee it’s worth every penny."