Campaign to buy ‘inspiring’ church new ovens will see Emsworth man, 95, walk from home to St James Church 95 times in a bid to raise £20,000

AN EMSWORTH man will walk almost 50 miles as he campaigns to raise thousands for a church community.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 6:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 11:55 am

At the age of 95, John Harwood has pledged to walk from his Emsworth home to his church - a distance of about half a mile - 95 times to raise funds for a cause close to his heart.

Inspired by Captain Tom’s walks in 2020, John hopes to raise £20,000 for new kitchen ovens at Lee Abbey in Devon - a place the Emsworth great-grandfather says has helped him to feel ‘inspired and encouraged’.

Kicking off the first walk of his fundraising challenge on May 28, John has so far done 22 walks, three of which were undertaken at Lee Abbey.

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John and Brenda Harwood as they embark on one of the fundraising walks. Picture: Jonny Simpson
John and Brenda Harwood as they embark on one of the fundraising walks. Picture: Jonny Simpson

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John, who sometimes walks with his wife Brenda, 90, is a committed Christian who attends Emsworth’s St James Church.

John said: ‘I’ve been going to Lee Abbey as a guest since the 1950s. It’s a wonderful place for a Christian community and they have a whole programme of conferences and talks. They also have a youth centre.

‘The ovens are worn out and the new ones are £20,000, so I thought it would be good to do a Captain Tom thing and to walk 95 times for my 95 years.’

John with one of the ovens that need replacing. Picture: Jonny Simpson

The couple, who have lived in Emsworth for 22 years, have two children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grand-children.

Now, John is asking for the support of the community as he raises the money needed for the ovens.

He said: ‘If anyone wants to support me, they can find my GoFundMe.

‘We would like people to look up Lee Abbey on the internet and to consider going as a guest. I’m sure they’ll have a wonderful time. The scenery is gorgeous and they have their own little beach. It’s a very welcoming community.

‘Over the years I’ve received so much teaching and inspiration and encouragement, and I want to give something back.

‘It is home to a Christian community where hundreds of people of all ages have experienced a fresh encounter with God in Jesus Christ in conferences and holiday house parties over the years.’

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