Dedicated fundraiser enlists help from across the world to continue her challenge

Posted: Tuesday 28 April 2020

One dedicated fundraiser has refused to let the coronavirus outbreak halt her fundraising efforts, enlisting help from all over the world to help her continue.

Earlier this year Jane Woodhead, pledged to mark 2020 by undertaking 20, 20-mile walks to raise £1,000 towards research into macular disease. The 54-year-old, who has pattern macular dystrophy – a rare genetic form of macular disease which causes a gradual deterioration sight – had successfully completed three of her walks when the coronavirus outbreak temporarily brought her challenge to a halt.

But, determined to find a way to safely carry on, Jane has managed to resume, first of all by combining a daily dog walk with laps of her own garden and a friend’s private field to complete another 20 miles. For her next walk, she called on friends and family as far afield as Australia to ‘donate’ a mile each from the daily exercise they are completing in line with social distancing measures.

Jane said: “The first walks had gone very well. Lots of friends, family and several local businesses had donated generously and I’d raised just over £600 when I had to put the challenge on hold.

“I thought I was going to have to stop until all of the social distancing restrictions had been lifted. Then, I started to see how other people were coming up with ways to raise money for charities, even though they were in lockdown. I’d initially wanted to do this challenge to help with research into macular disease, which is always going to be needed, whatever happens with coronavirus, so I decided I had to carry on.”

After successfully completing a further 20 miles alone, Jane contacted friends and family to see if they’d be willing to help with the next walk, and she got an incredible response.

Jane said: “A friend had suggested asking other people to join in to make up the 20 mile distance; I wasn’t sure about it initially but I decided to give it a go. I thought if I could get 20 people to do a mile each, that would be great, but in the end I was totally overwhelmed. When I switched my phone on that morning, my cousin Linda, who lives in Sydney, and my friend Theresa, who’s in Tasmania, had already done their daily walks and sent me photos.

“In total, I had 72 friends – and 34 dogs – ‘donate’ a mile from their daily walks. I never expected a turn out like that – it was incredible. Several of them said that they’d stopped getting any pleasure from their daily walks, because of the guidelines they were having to follow, and because it was something they had to do. Having the challenge to focus on helped them to enjoy it again, which was nice to hear. And all their efforts helped raise another £150, so I’m now up to nearly £800.”

And Jane has already planned the next phase of her challenge: a ‘virtual’ walk taking in local landmarks around Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge, which takes place on Wednesday 29 April. 

Jane said: “I’ve been watching London tour guides doing their tours on the internet, showing pictures of different locations that a normal walk would cover. So I’m going to do that with a local route here – plot it on the internet; put up pictures of the landmarks I’d be passing, and then when the social distancing measures have been lifted, I’ll go and do the walk for real.”

If you would like to sponsor Jane, please visit her JustGiving page. She is also writing a regular blog about her challenge and her eye condition.

For more information on taking part in fundraising event to beat macular disease, visit the Macular Society's website.