86 Miles for 86 Years
894. Jeffrey Long
Jeffrey Long MBE, aged 86, from West Yorkshire, is a former paratrooper who raised over £120,000 in 2017 for the ‘Royal British Legion’ through sponsored walks, with his latest challenge going viral.
Jeffrey, who received an MBE in 2009 for his previous charity fundraising involving a 650 mile hike to Switzerland, has continued to fundraise for the ‘Royal British Legion’ by challenging himself every year to walk long distances in army camouflage. In spite of recent chemotherapy, last year Jeffrey walked 86 miles along the Thames to mark his 86th birthday. His story was shared online by Paula Modeste, who he met on his walk, and then picked up by comedian Jason Manford, resulting in his fundraising increasing from £300 to £75,000 within 24 hours, reaching a total of over £120,000.
In a personal letter to Jeffrey, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The story of your fundraising for the ‘Royal British Legion’ has inspired millions of people online, and you should be incredibly proud of raising over £120,000 by walking 86 miles on your 86th birthday. Your long-serving support of armed forces charities is helping thousands of veterans across the country, and your latest efforts have encouraged new generations to remember those who have given their lives whilst serving our country.”
Claire Rowcliffe, Director of Fundraising at the ‘Royal British Legion’, said:
“We’d like to congratulate Jeffrey on such a well-deserved award. I’m delighted to see his efforts being highlighted in this way. No other individual raised more during last year’s ‘Poppy Appeal’ and we’re grateful to the many people who supported him. It’s thanks to the generosity of the public that we can continue to provide support to the ‘Armed Forces’ community, including veterans like Jeffrey.”
“I’m honoured to be chosen for this award and delighted that the government is recognising the efforts of volunteers around the country. Of course, there are many other people who support my fundraising and I’m very grateful to them. I’m passionate about the causes I support, especially the military charities, given my background with the Paras. I don’t intend to give up fundraising in the foreseeable future!”
Paula Modeste, who shared Jeffrey’s story online, said:
“This is brilliant news! From my first meeting with Jeffrey, I could tell that he is a special person who cares deeply about helping others. And from the way people reacted on social media, it’s clear that many of them could see it too. It’s great that he’s being recognised in this way and I hope it encourages others to be more like Jeffrey. He is a legend!”
Jason Manford said:
“Congratulations to Jeffrey! I was chuffed to hear that he’s being recognised like this. I first shared Jeffrey’s story because it’s exactly the kind of thing I’d like to see on my own newsfeed. We need people like Jeffrey in the world to remind us all that we’re in this together. He’s a top man and an inspiration.”