RETIREMENT is meant to be a time to kick back, relax and live a carefree life – unless, that is, you are Commander Jane Allen.
She is tackling a major fundraising effort by trekking, non-stop, across the coast of the United Kingdom after having retired from the Royal Navy reserve.
She is spending the first year of her retirement taking on the challenge, which will see her notching up more than 5,500 miles on foot.
Called the Victory Walk, Cdr Allen’s aim is to raise cash for a good cause close to her heart, the Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity and Women’s Royal Naval Service Benevolent Trust.
But she won’t be doing it alone. Walking with her every step of the way is her husband – and retired Royal Marine – Frank.
Cdr Allen, who lives on Portsdown Hill, said: ‘Between us, Frank and I have almost 70 years’ service in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, from Aden to Afghanistan.
‘The Victory Walk seemed a good way of marking the end of my career, taking on a year’s challenge and ‘giving back’.’
Cdr Allen’s last role before hanging up her uniform saw her based at HMS Excellent, on Whale Island, Portsmouth.
But she joined the navy almost four decades ago, when the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) was separate from the Royal Navy.
During her time with the navy, she has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and played a key role in training reservists at both local and national level.
Her final job before leaving the navy involved her working closely with the press as a Royal Navy media, communication and engagement team leader.
Cdr Allen’s trek started from Portsmouth, outside HMS Victory.
She will travel anti-clockwise around the British coast, walking first along the eastern coast of England up to Scotland, before going round the northern end of Scotland and trekking south, passing Wales.
The final stretch, expected to take place later next year, will involve her passing Plymouth – home to the Devonport Naval Base – before tackling the 163-mile home straight back to Portsmouth, finishing outside HMS Victory.
Her ambitious fundraiser has impressed naval top brass, with the Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock, now singing her praises.
He said: ‘I’d like to wish Commander Jane Allen the best of luck with her coastal walk for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.
‘As she prepares to retire from the Royal Naval reserve, Jane is bravely throwing herself in at the deep end again to raise money for the principal charity of the Royal Navy and the WRNS Benevolent Trust.
‘In doing so, Commander Allen continues to embody the commitment and resolve demonstrated by those in the naval services.’
Her trek comes in the centenary year of the WRNS being set up.
There are an estimated 40,000 former members of the WRNS who are celebrating the milestone, together with women in today’s fully-integrated Royal Navy.
Robert Robson, chief executive of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, said Cdr Allen’s trek would raise ‘vital funds’ for the Portsmouth-based military cause.
He said: ‘The money that Jane raises on her long walks around Britain’s beautiful coastline will help us to allocate vital funds to sailors, marines and their families throughout the United Kingdom and beyond.
‘In the centenary anniversary year of the WRNS, Commander Jane Allen embodies the spirit, grit and determination of those who preceded her.’
Cdr Allen aims to raise £50,000 during her travels, as well as raising the profile of women in the navy.
So far she has raised £445.
To sponsor her and to keep updated on her progress, see uk.virginmoneygiving.com/victorywalk17-18.