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Meet the woman raising money for NHS by walking 102 laps of park before she turns 102

PUBLISHED: 14:11 13 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:11 13 May 2020

Diane Rich with her mother, Joan, who is walking laps of Allenby Park in Felixstowe  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Diane Rich with her mother, Joan, who is walking laps of Allenby Park in Felixstowe Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A Suffolk centenarian and former nurse has set herself the target of walking 102 laps of a park before she turns 102 - and raised more than £13,000 for the NHS in the process.

Joan Rich is a former nurse at Felixstowe General Hospital Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJoan Rich is a former nurse at Felixstowe General Hospital Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Joan Rich, 101, is planning to walk 102 laps of Allenby Park in Felixstowe, a distance of 560m from door-to-door, before her birthday in September.

She is being aided with her effort by her daughter Diane, who set up a JustGiving page with the aim of raising £1,020 for NHS Charities Together.

But Joan’s walks have captured the imagination of her neighbours and she has smashed her target - with the current total raised now at £13,093.

Diane said: “Joan has always been incredibly active. She loved cycling and has always been a walker.

Diane has been accompanying Joan on her walks  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDiane has been accompanying Joan on her walks Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It is harder to walk in lockdown. It’s not ideal to walk in the streets as there’s wheelie bins out.

“We plan to walk every day - we’ve got plenty of time to do it.”

MORE: Join our Facebook group for updates on coronavirus in Suffolk

Joan was born in 1918 - in the middle of the Spanish flu outbreak - and has spent half of her life in Suffolk, working as an auxiliary nurse at Felixstowe Hospital from 1964 to 1978.

Joan turns 102 in September Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJoan turns 102 in September Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

She was posted to the Middle East during the Second World War, where she ironically lived near a different Allenby Park in Jerusalem.

Both parks were named after Field Marshal Edmund Allenby, a British soldier who fought in the First World War.

After retiring from nursing, Joan continued to remain active - including completing a 5km charity walk at the age of 95 in 2013.

Diane set up the JustGiving page after Allenby Park reopened in April with a relatively modest goal of reaching £1,020 - but Joan’s challenge quickly gathered attention and praise.

Joan also served in the Second World War Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJoan also served in the Second World War Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The money raised will be distributed to a range of NHS charities nationwide as health workers on the frontline continue to fight the Covid-19 outbreak.

100-year-old Captain Tom Moore, who himself raised more than £30million for the NHS by completing a similar challenge, has even sent Joan a good luck message.

Diane said: “There’s a lot of people in their 90s and 100s who have been amazing during the crisis.

“Joan’s generation was the one that helped create the NHS. Love for the NHS is important to her.”

Captain Tom Moore has sent Joan a good luck message Picture: JOE GIDDENS/PA WIRECaptain Tom Moore has sent Joan a good luck message Picture: JOE GIDDENS/PA WIRE

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