People from across the region have taken part in The Big Smile, a series of 50 charity walks, organised by the Walk and Talk Trust and backed by local newspaper The Northern Echo, and high profile individuals and organisations, including Sir Chris Bonington, Alan Hinkes and the It’s Great Out There Coalition.
The Walk and Talk Trust was the vision of Durham businessman Peter Bell, who wanted to share his passion for walking and promote the benefits of regular outdoor activity to body, mind, and soul. Since its launch at Raby Castle, near Staindrop, County Durham, on June 21, The Big Smile has taken walkers on routes in Northumberland, County Durham, Tyne and Wear, North Yorkshire, Tees Valley, and Cumbria, with participants raising money for the charity along the way.
After 10 weeks, the fundraising initiative will end with a final walk, starting and finishing in Durham on Friday 27 August, by which time the walk leaders, Keiron Young and Richard Ellis, will have hiked a total of total 1,000km.
Walk and Talk Trust chief executive Geoff Simpson comments: “We’re thrilled to be able to provide in excess of 1,000 pairs of walking boots to Year 6 schoolchildren throughout the North East to help them discover the joys of walking. We’re very proud of our team of walk leaders, and incredibly grateful to all of our supporters and sponsors who have helped make the first Big Smile such a resounding a success.”
Peter Bell adds: “This result represents an incredible achievement in the charity’s first year, particularly against the background of the pandemic and all the uncertainties it has presented. We’re delighted that this is going to make such a difference to so many young people and, hopefully, inspire in them a love of walking and the outdoors to last a lifetime.”