Audrey McCune, 66, sets off on 400-mile fundraising walk to Northern Ireland

Audrey McCune sets of one her walk from Rock Barracks to Palace Barracks in County Down for Walking

Audrey McCune sets of one her walk from Rock Barracks to Palace Barracks in County Down for Walking with the Wounded.

A Suffolk grandmother’s epic trek to her former home town is in full stride after setting off from a Suffolk army base.

Audrey McCune covered 23 miles from Rock Barracks in Woodbridge to the other side of Ipswich on the first day of her fundraising journey to Northern Ireland.

The 66-year-old stopped for lunch in Stowmarket yesterday before heading for Woolpit, en route to Bury St Edmunds and then Newmarket.

By the time she reaches Palace Barracks in Holywood, County Down, on Christmas morning, Audrey will have walked 400 miles to raise money for Walking With The Wounded (WWTW).

The former head housekeeper for the royal family was inspired by her soldier grandson to support wounded veterans without a home at Christmas.

The Walking Home for Christmas campaign funds the charity’s Home Straight scheme, which helps homeless veterans with employment and independence.

Audrey, who lives in the Saxmundham area and was given a warm send-off from soldiers at Rock Barracks, decided to cover as much ground as possible on the first few days of her challenge.

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She said: “There is method in my madness. I thought, because I know Suffolk, I would try to get the longest walks out of the way.”

Audrey has been overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers on her journey so far. She was offered refreshment on the house in Needham Market and Sproughton, and has already been receiving calls from well-wishers for news of her progress.

Audrey’s grandson, Toby, is a lance corporal in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, currently serving with the Household Cavalry in Windsor. The 23-year-old will be meeting his grandmother on her return to Suffolk.

Along the way, Audrey will visit Newton Heath, Manchester, where the BBC’s DIY SOS team helped transform a street of empty houses into a “veterans’ village” in September, supported by Prince William, Prince Harry and former service personnel working with WWTW.

On Christmas morning, Audrey will complete the final leg of her journey to Palace Barracks, where she has organised to be picked up by her brother, Jim, and taken home for Christmas lunch.

To sponsor Audrey, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AudreyMcCune.

Learn more about the Walking Home for Christmas campaign at wwtw.org.uk.

Visit youtube.com/archantsuffolk to watch a video of Audrey setting off.

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