The Provincial Prior, R E Kt D Gary Read KCT accompanied by his Sub Prior, V E Kt Alan T Howls, and many from within the Province were pleased to welcome to Burton Masonic Hall on Sunday 15th April, the returning Knights of the Provincial Prior’s Body Guard on completion of their epic journey taking them from Ironbridge to Burton on Trent in just two days.
Joining the Walk at the set locations had been a small number from within the Province but most noticeably the greatest support came from Bro Kt Andrew Shenton of William de Ferrars Preceptory who completed all five sections with the Body Guard.
The Body Guard Commander wishes to thank all members of the Province for their help and assistance in raising the funds to send the two members of St John Ambulance to the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital in a couple of weeks time; and a small reminder that the account is not yet closed for further donations.
In 2014 we raised close to £20,000 for the Coast to Coast cycle ride when 4 Cycle Response Units were purchased for St John Ambulance and we sent two Cadets to the Eye Hospital; In 2016 we raised circa £7,000 for British Heart Foundation; and in 2018 we are hoping our final total can exceed the originally anticipated £8,000 which will keep the Hospital fully operational for nearly 6 months!
We found stretching embarrassing but necessary, and our intrepid photographer was always pleased to make sure he caught us in the act, both early in the morning; and again, after each day of the walk.
The night, before the morning after, we were smiling then……we still had 6 hours before we needed to get up at 0430hrs!!
Very early on in this Challenge came The Wrekin, the highest point on the Challenge route and tackled from the steeper south side (see hiding in the background of the photograph). On the opposite side, members of the Province were able to join us for a section of the walk, and the team were very happy to see them.
This is a footpath, honest it was, Bro Kt Nick Thomas nearly losing his boots in the very soft mud at the end of this field raised a smile and a good laugh……well for the rest of the team anyway!!
A beautiful sunset brought the end of the first day at Stafford with the members of the Body Guard coming in strong to that day’s finish line. Off to the hotel for stretches, a shower and a trip to the Italian for dinner, nursing blisters and aching limbs.
Day Two came with its own new challenges, moving their legs was the first to overcome, as many of the Body Guard were a little stiff, and others looking after sore feet. Breakfast eaten, tea drunk, stretches completed, and we were off again.
In Great Haywood on Day 2, the team diverted off the canal (The route marked for the Staffordshire Way) to meet members of the Province who would join them for the next section. Also waiting there was Master Harry Thomas, who was dressed to ensure he fitted in with the Team, but more importantly he brought cakes for the Body Guard!! They were consumed at a rate of knots after which sausage cobs all round, and off they went again towards Rugeley.
We were made very welcome at Wilson Keys Court, the Masonic Home. Many thanks to Tracey, Jean and all the residents for looking after us. It gave the team a huge boost in spirits ready for the next leg towards Yoxall.
During this arduous Challenge we of course needed to look after our feet, and the shout for a medic by our Commander was rewarded by care and attention. Of course, filled with worry that he may suffer irreparable damage from his severe blisters, the rest of the team had a cuppa, provided by our amazing support crew, who were there through thick and thin with us, and without them this Challenge would not have been possible.
Onwards and upwards, over the fields and down the lanes, they walked, when upon a stretch of road that was so dangerous the support team bunny hopped up the hill with us to ensure we were safe and that on-coming drivers were slowing down.
Several miles later, and the team arrive in Burton-on-Trent, with just a short distance of 3 miles to go to complete their Challenge. Once again, members of the Province were on hand to take part in this final section of the walk, including E Kt Richard Stimpson resplendent in his former Royal Navy beret.
Re-grouping for the final push, even those with blisters and injuries managed to get their ruck sacks on and then………Oh look another Hill!!
Up the hill and in to Burton Masonic Hall, to be greeted by members from the Province and a guard of honour from the members of the St John Ambulance service. Some hot food and a well-earned drink were followed by a presentation from the Provincial Prior to thank his Body Guard for an amazing effort over the previous 48 hours to arrive bang on time as predicted.