Pair celebrate friendship with 100-mile walk

IN STEP Long-time friends Stephen Cochrane, right, and Stephen Hawkins who are taking part in a friendship walk ahead.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (120305-1)
IN STEP Long-time friends Stephen Cochrane, right, and Stephen Hawkins who are taking part in a friendship walk ahead. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120305-1)
Lewis Hine and his mum Emma at the Friend Finder Prom 
Picture: Ian Hargreaves (170626-1)

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THIS summer, they will have been best friends for 50 years.

Now, Stephen Cochrane and Stephen Hawkins will celebrate their long-standing friendship with a 100-mile walk for charity.

By setting up the Friendship Walk, they hope to raise money for nearby good causes and inspire other people to recognise their friendships in the same way.

They are planning to walk the length of South Downs Way, stretching from Eastbourne to Winchester between Monday, July 23 and Sunday, January 29 – the same day as the opening of the Olympic Games in London.

The pair, both now aged 61, met when they were just 12 during their time at Southern Grammar School for Boys in Portsmouth.

They have been best pals ever since.

Mr Cochrane, 61, from Hylters Lane, near Chichester said: ‘We both sat down and it dawned on us that we had been friends for 50 years this year, and thought we had better find a way to celebrate it.

‘Then we thought of doing a walk, and it seemed silly not to raise money for charity at the same time.

‘There must be people out there who wish to celebrate their friendships, whether they have spanned two years, or 82 years.

‘It’s about people getting out and about, getting exercise and recognising their short or long-term friendships.

‘This potentially could get hundred or even thousands of people involved in the Olympic celebrations while at the same time raising thousands of pounds for charity.

‘I believe that this could be of national interest and could ultimately be the community event of this Olympic year.’

The pair want people to take on Olympic events such as running, swimming, cycling, sailing and horse racing which can be arranged alongside their walk.

The charities which will benefit from the friendship walk are Fieldfare Trust, Cancer Research UK, Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, and the National Brain Appeal.

Mr Cochrane added: ‘We have both had friends who have passed away with cancer, and I have had a friend who needed brain surgery.

‘We also wanted to raise money for Leukaemia Research in memory of a colleague’s daughter, as well as the Fieldfare charity.

‘There are a lot of elderly people out there who lack access to the beautiful countryside.’