Former police officer's Captain Tom-style challenge switched to seafront

Andy Blacker, a former police officer who retired with multiple sclerosis, is gearing up to walk 10

Ipswich's Andy Blacker is set to walk along Felixstowe seafront next month - Credit: Danielle Booden

A former police officer with multiple sclerosis (MS) has switched his Captain Tom-style 12-mile walking challenge from the Orwell Bridge to Felixstowe seafront.

Andy Blacker, from Ipswich, was diagnosed with the condition 27 years ago and is currently in the secondary progressive stage, with his mobility severely impaired.

He has a splint on his right foot to avoid tripping and uses two walking sticks for balance.

Despite his disability, Mr Blacker had planned to raise £4,000 in support of East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH) and Suffolk Help in Multiple Sclerosis, of which he is chairman, by walking lengths of the Orwell Bridge on the outskirts of Ipswich.

Andy Blacker, a former police officer who retired with multiple sclerosis, is gearing up to walk 10

The former police officer had planned to walk over the Orwell Bridge - Credit: Danielle Booden

However, he has opted to change the destination of his walk to the seafront in Felixstowe after consultation with authorities.

The challenge is set to begin on Friday, May 28 and is set to be completed over three days, with a bucket collection for donations to be placed at the pier.

Nearly £2,500 has been donated to the cause so far.

Mr Blacker said he was inspired to take up the challenge by Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised nearly £33million for NHS Charities Together in the first Covid lockdown last spring.

He has been training in Ipswich’s Landseer Road, managing two miles a walk at a pace of one mile an hour.

People exercising and going for walks in Felixstowe, during the last weekend of lockdown before the

Felixstowe seafront is the new destination for Mr Blacker's walk - Credit: Charlotte Bond

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Mr Blacker said: "I was inspired by the late, great Captain Sir Tom Moore.

"I originally thought about ‘hobbling’ over the Orwell Bridge, but after speaking to a few different people I decided Felixstowe seafront would be the perfect location.

"The distance I’ll be doing won’t change, nor the two charities I’ll be supporting.

"I’ve set a target of £4,000 and I’m already over halfway there, so I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me so far.”

Issy O’Riordan, EACH Suffolk community fundraiser, added: "Community-minded supporters such as Andy are vital to making sure EACH can continue caring for children and young people with life-threatening conditions, and supporting their families.

"Andy is such a pleasure to work with and his challenge is inspiring. He’s going above and beyond, and his efforts couldn’t be more appreciated."

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