Portsmouth woman walks 1,000 miles for Samaritans in memory of her brother

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A SISTER who vowed to raise funds for a deserving charity in memory of her brother has walked the last mile in the gruelling 1,000-mile challenge she set herself.

Frances Vigay, from Fratton, has raised more than £2,000 for the charity Samaritans, which provides help and support to those who may be suicidal.

Frances Vigay completed her last mile from Clarence Pier to South Parade Pier in Southsea on New Year's Eve. Frances has walked 1,000 miles with her dog Pippa collecting plastic waste along the way in a bid to raise money for Samaritans. Picture: Sarah Standing (180890-239)

Frances Vigay completed her last mile from Clarence Pier to South Parade Pier in Southsea on New Year's Eve. Frances has walked 1,000 miles with her dog Pippa collecting plastic waste along the way in a bid to raise money for Samaritans. Picture: Sarah Standing (180890-239)

Frances, 48, started the challenge in January and walked the last mile from Clarence Pier to South Parade Pier, in Southsea, with about 30 supporters.

She has not included any ordinary walking in her challenge – but has gone out of her way to rack up the 1,000 miles by taking extra walks.

Frances said: ‘It’s coming up to 10 years since my brother Paul Vigay died, in what is believed to be a suicide, so I wanted to do this in memory of him. 

‘His body was found at Southsea beach.

Frances Vigay and her dog Pippa. Picture: Sarah Standing (180890-4860)

Frances Vigay and her dog Pippa. Picture: Sarah Standing (180890-4860)

‘The Samaritans is a fantastic charity which helps people who may be in despair, so I wanted to put funds towards the amazing service it provides in helping to save lives, and raising awareness around suicide prevention.

‘I haven’t counted any ordinary walks like dog walks but I’ve done the miles anywhere I could.

‘I found a lot of new places in Portsmouth, climbed Mount Snowdon in Wales, the most I have done at one time is about 14-and-a-half miles.’

Frances walked with her dog Pippa in places of significance for her brother, who was 44 when he died, such as Beachy Head on the coast in Eastbourne where people have jumped to their deaths. 

Frances completed her last mile with a group of supporters. Picture: Sarah Standing (180890-4882)

Frances completed her last mile with a group of supporters. Picture: Sarah Standing (180890-4882)

She also started picking litter up along the way after witnessing just how much is dumped on her walks.

Frances added: ‘I pushed myself to the edge by finishing on December 31.

‘I wanted to do the last mile with friends, family and supporters and it was quite overwhelming, and so is all the support I’ve received.

‘There were times, especially halfway through when I was behind, that I thought I might not finish. It’s been really tough because I work and have a son, so I’ve had to fit it in.

‘I’ve got painful hips and cartilage problems with my knees, and Pippa finds walks tough after five miles, so I’ve had to carry her a lot of the way.

‘But knowing why I’m doing it and seeing the donations coming in kept me going.

‘It’s weird for it to come to an end because it’s been so much a part of my life for the past year, but everyone cheering me on was lovely. 

People can donate through the Facebook page below.