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The Waltham Walk

2322. Michael Wilding

Michael Wilding, from Waltham Forest, founded ‘The Waltham Walk’, an annual walking challenge held in May which has seen over 7,000 young people take part over the years.

The challenge hike, which Michael first started in 1970, involves teams completing a 25 mile walk around the Essex countryside over two days, carrying equipment needed for camping overnight. The ‘Main Event’ is tailored for those between the ages of 14 and 18 and, using map reading, camping and culinary skills, teams race to be the first to reach the finish point, and take part in challenges at each checkpoint and observation tests along the way.

Michael has grown the event from 23 teams in its first year to a peak of 80 teams in the 80s, with teams attending from a range of youth organisations including Boys’ Brigade, Scouts, Guides, Cadets and schools. Alongside the ‘Main Event’, Michael also organises a ‘Mini Trek Event’, a 16 mile walk for those between the ages of 12 and 14, ‘Veterans and Supervets Events’ for those over 19, and a non-competitive, accompanied walk for those between the ages of 10 and 12. Now in its 55th year, the annual event will take place this weekend, with nearly 150 people taking part.

Michael manages a committee of volunteers, who start planning each year’s event in September, with the hike taking a different route through the Essex countryside each year.

Michael said:

“Wow … I was completely bowled over when I heard I had won the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award for 17th May. Having conceived the vision of a weekend Challenge Hike for young people, initially from the east end of London, the Waltham Walk has continued for 55 years. 

“But this Award must be shared with my stalwart band of volunteers, who have worked with me, tirelessly, over the years, both in preparing for the event and during the weekends each May, some of whom have been with me since the first Waltham Walk in 1970, and some of whom have now passed on. Well done everyone, this award is for all of you as well.

“We hope we have changed the lives of those taking part, for the better.”

Find out more about ‘The Waltham Walk

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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