'Remarkable' father and son to embark on coastal walk for charity

Mike and James enjoying a walk in the countryside

Mike and James enjoying a walk in the countryside

An extraordinary father-and-son fundraising duo are preparing to embark on another of many sponsored treks to help support adults with learning disabilities.

To mark his 85th birthday, Mike Stiff will be walking back and forth between the mouths of the rivers Deben and Orwell with his autistic son, James.

The 20km sponsored walk will raise money for the Home Farm Trust (Hft) charity, which has provided residential care for James over the last 37 years.

The pair have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity through sponsored walks, cycles and events over the years.

James, 55, who will also be joined by his sister, Sarah, for the 'Mouth-to-Mouth' walk on Saturday, October 16, raised £53,600 towards a new Hft centre in Bedfordshire in the late 1980s by cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

In 2001, he was joined by his father for the reverse journey, from the John O’Groats to Land’s End, raising another £24,000.

Each year, for two decades, Mike also sold Christmas cards for the trust and raised a total of £81,000.

Most Read

In more recent years, the pair have been instrumental in raising thousands towards the trust’s garden centre.

They embarked on a 50-mile sponsored walk from Woodbridge to Southwold in August 2016 and Mike even found time to write a book, called You’re Not Alone, which detailed family’s experiences of autism and raised thousands of pounds for Hft from sales.

All money raised from the walk will be used to revamp the storm damaged garden centre at Hft Herts and Essex, in Ugley, near Bishop's Stortford.

Mike said the expedition was a way of acknowledging the unstinting support his family had received from the charity, which assists about 2,500 adults with various learning disabilities through its nationwide residential and day care services.

The retired bank manager, from Grundisburgh, near Woodbridge, said: "Currently, there's a need to revamp the well patronised on-site garden centre, where James spends many fruitful hours, and is a welcoming face for the visiting public. Hence, the plea for further support, as capital projects such as the one planned can only be financed through funds raised via events such as this walk."

Hft divisional fundraising manager, Honora Smith called Mike and James' fundraising efforts "remarkable".

To sponsor Mike and James for their walk between Felixstowe Ferry and the Port of Felixstowe, click here

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter