Fundraising family double target total from coastal walk for learning disabilities charity

Mike, Sarah and James Stiff

Mike, Sarah and James at the end of the walk in Felixstowe - Credit: Mike Stiff

A father and son fundraising team have raked in twice as much charity cash as anticipated from a sponsored walk between the mouths of two Suffolk rivers.

Mike and James Stiff raised £5,000 by walking back and forth between the mouths of the Deben and Orwell to help support adults with learning disabilities.

The 20km walk, which also marked Grundisburgh retired banker Mike's 85th birthday, was organised for the benefit of the Home Farm Trust (Hft), which has provided residential care for James, 55, who has autism, over the last 37 years.

Mike and James Stiff at Hft

Mike Stiff (right) and his son, James, in the garden centre at Hft Herts and Essex - Credit: Mike Stiff

Mike and James have been responsible for raising many thousands of pounds for the charity through sponsored walks, cycle rides, events, Christmas card and book sales. 

This time, they were joined by James' sister, Sarah, for the 'Mouth-to-Mouth' walk last Saturday, October 16, following which, Mike said: "All went well. James coped very well and was still walking strongly at the end. As was Sarah.

"I was knackered, but did it, much to the disgust of my feet that evening.

"Incredibly, I got up the following morning and everything was fine, but I declined the invitation to walk four miles around Grundisburgh with the pair of them."

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The walk took four hours and 18 minutes – half-an-hour less than planned – covering 26,069 steps across varying terrain, including unforgiving shingle.  

To complete the family affair, the trio were met by Mike's wife, Heather, and the finishing line in Felixstowe.

James raised £53,600 towards a new Hft centre in Bedfordshire in the late 1980s by cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Mike and James enjoying a walk in the countryside

Mike and James enjoying a walk in the countryside

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.

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.

Mike also wrote 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.

You can still sponsor Mike and James by clicking here

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