IT WAS no Top Gear challenge for Jeremy Clarkson – but it certainly was for these six women.
They were halfway through a 103-mile trek across the South Downs Way to raise money for Help for Heroes when they bumped into the TV presenter.
Mr Clarkson – a patron of the charity – was filming when he went over and posed for a picture with the group.
The fundraisers included Jenny Hollington, the mother of Richard Hollington, who died from injuries suffered in a bomb blast while on patrol in Helmand, Afghanistan.
Mrs Hollington, from Stroud, near Petersfield, said it was complete coincidence they had stumbled across Mr Clarkson.
‘We couldn’t believe it when we spotted him up on the top of the downs, especially as he is one of the patrons of Help for Heroes,’ she said. ‘He was very interested to hear all about Richard and about the walk we were doing and he was more than happy to pose for a picture with us and wished us all the best.’
Mne Hollington, 23 – a former pupil at Purbrook Park School and student at South Downs College Purbrook – died a year ago.
Ever since, his parents have been busy fundraising, and have collected more than £100,000 in his memory.
His father, Robin, had completed the South Downs trail the previous week in a non-stop effort from Eastbourne to Winchester which lasted 36 hours.
Jenny and her team then did it in reverse over five days.
Between them they managed to raise £36,000 from the two treks, with Hounds for Heroes also benefitting from the cash raised.
The charity – set up last year by Gulf War veteran Allen Parton, from Clanfield – provides specially-trained assistance dogs to injured and disabled men and women from both the armed forces and emergency services.
Mrs Hollington said she had found the walk very tiring.
‘Last Thursday was a struggle, but we knew we had to keep going,’ she said. ‘The men yomped from Eastbourne to Winchester raising money for Help for Heroes.
‘We were not going to be outdone so we yomped back the other way for Hounds for Heroes. Raising funds is helping us come to terms with a new normality after Richard’s death.
‘But there was another incentive too because Hounds for Heroes has invited us to name one of their dogs Yomper Richie, after Richard.’
Walking with Mrs Hollington were Robin’s sister Kenna Worthington; Richard’s godmother Deborah Rutherford and the Hollingtons’ god-daughter and friend of Richard’s, Sally Morris.
The other two team members were Nikki Fox and Gill Borland.