Africa Vikings will walk 500 miles, and then they'll walk 500 more….
All for Open Arms Malawi, Aspire Academy, and SSAFA!
Even during a pandemic, our supporters never fail to amaze us with their generosity and, indeed, creativity.
Simon Pimm and Marc Stewardson are two such fundraisers who have set themselves a fantastic, challenging adventure - to walk from Victoria Falls in Zambia to Lake Malawi in Malawi.
Because of personal experience and a story that is not only incredibly heart-warming but also a story that many can relate to.
With close personal ties to Malawi, Simon and Marc want to raise as much money as possible.
Please help Africa Vikings on their epic walking adventure and help us build brighter futures for vulnerable children in Malawi.
A personal story
A member of the British Army for 12 years, Simon served with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment. However, after leaving the Army in 2010, transitioning into "normal" life wasn't normal at all.
"Within six months of leaving my post and believing a new life beckoned, I went through an acrimonious divorce; I watched helplessly as my father lost his battle with cancer. I had the added pressure of finding employment, securing, and making a home, and more."
Simon's mental health suffered severely, with a feeling of drowning and nowhere to turn and as a result Simon suffered a breakdown in 2019.
"It was then that I realised that it's ok not to be ok and that talking and speaking out is what I needed to realise I needed help."
It's good to talk
Mental health is an increasingly growing area of concern. Referred to the veteran's Transition, Intervention, and Liaison Service (TILS), Simon was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Working with the SSAFA, Simon is now receiving the right treatment and therapy to help him strip back and process events and situations in a safer and more controlled way.
"It wasn't until I was in therapy that I realised I wanted to help myself, I wanted to recover, but I also wanted others to benefit from my change.
At this point, walking over a thousand miles from Victoria Falls in Zambia to Lake Malawi in Malawi seemed like a walk in the park, but I knew I couldn't do this alone."
Simon and his Army `mukka` Marc Stewardson met in 2002. After forming a strong friendship, they also found out that their fathers knew each other when they worked in Zambia during the '60s and remained friends until Simon's father moved to Malawi and met his Mum!
From here, the challenge was set, and the Africa Vikings, The Long Boot, was born.
Both men will start their adventure at Victoria Falls on 1st June 2021. Walking across Africa (over 1,000 miles), stopping at Non-Government Organisation outposts and villages on route, where they want to support the local villages and carry out work in exchange for food and shelter, finally finishing at Lake Malawi in mid-August.
Supporting fantastic causes
SSAFA – A charity that offers extraordinary support to servicemen and women, veterans, and their families.
Open Arms Malawi – Simon's Mum is a long-term supporter of Open Arms after living in Malawi and raising her children in Blantyre. Open Arms provides much-needed care, accommodation, education, and support to children and families across Malawi.
Aspire Academy – an incredible school based in Wellington, providing children with additional needs and behavioural and emotional difficulties with the support they need when they need it most.