A fundraising walk for Calibre along the Cotswold Way

Image shows a picture of Gemma and her grandfather
Gemma and her beloved grandfather.

Gerald Walker is fondly described by his granddaughter as an old school gentleman, a seriously resilient man and a laugh-a-minute grandad. A member of Calibre since 2016, Gerald loved reading and would spend hours absorbed in his favourite books, reading in bed every evening. When old age started to take hold, his eyesight failed him, resulting in him having to give up many things such as driving, working on the farm and reading. The latter affected him the most making him feel cut off from the world, both reality and the one he found between those pages. 

Sadly, Gerald died on 18th April 2021, and his granddaughter, Gemma, decided that she very kindly wanted to raise money for Calibre in memory of her grandad. The challenge: to walk the Cotswold Way in 5 days, a walk that would normally take 7-10 days. Gemma set up her JustGiving page, aiming to raise £300 and the challenge was on.

The Cotswold Way is a 102-mile long-distance footpath, running along the Cotswold Edge escarpment of the Cotswold Hills in England. It was officially inaugurated as a National Trail on 24th May 2007 and several new rights of way have been created. Gemma and her partner, George, who lent her his enthusiasm and support throughout the whole project, planned to start the walk on Sunday 30th May 2021. When that day dawned, it turned out to be right in the middle of the first hot spell of weather of 2021, with highs of24°c. The temperature meant the pair needed to carry extra water to remain hydrated, which was tough, but at the same time they acknowledged that the better weather helped lift their spirits. Over the next 5 consecutive days they walked:

Day 1 - 18 miles from chipping Campden to Winchcombe
Day 2 - 21.5 miles Winchcombe to Birdlip
Day 3 - 24 miles Birdlip to Dursley
Day 4 - 20 miles Dursley to Old Sodbury
Day 5 - 18.5 miles Old Sodbury to Bath

We asked Gemma and George to let us know how the walk went, and to give us their best and worst bits.

The worst (in their own words): All those hills, and the distances we had to cover each day. We were in bed and asleep by 9pm every evening! Our blisters were huge and I (Gemma) have completely lost my little toe nail - I hope it grows back so I can still have a full pedicure!

And the best: The views! Guy and Ellie who owned the B&B at Old Sodbury who made us a fantastic breakfast and with whom we had wonderful conversations. Ellie lent me a foam roller as by the fourth day my glute had become so tight in my leg, it was almost impossible to walk. Without her letting me borrow her roller I don't think I (again, Gemma) physically would have been able to carry on. The feeling of achievement at the end when we stood outside the Guild Hall in Bath and meeting at the same time another couple that had come from Ireland to complete it. They are the couple who took our photo at the end - after which we went straight to the pub to celebrate!

Image is a few pics of Gemma and George during the walk


Gemma says:

We did it to raise money in memory of my grandfather, Gerald Walker. We as a family really miss him especially my father who he would speak with every day about the land that we farm and the business my father took on from his dad (my grandfather) which was left to him by his father (my great grandfather). Both my grandfather and father have always worked the land and have loved it always, despite the challenges of producing good crops all year round with the constant challenges thrown at them by Mother Nature herself. I see a lot of my grandfather in my dad and I am so very proud of them both. Strong, generous, hard working men. My mother was also very close with my grandfather, visiting a number of times a week to check on him, have lunch and chats. My grandfather always spoke so highly of my mother. So, I am not only raising money in memory of my grandfather for a fantastic charity but also to show my parents how proud I am of the people they are.
Calibre audio was the best charity we could have ever hoped to find to help my grandad get back his eyes through his hearing. Having books being read to him through a machine was pure joy. This enabled him to still engage in conversation with friends and family over books, characters and authors they all knew and had read. Secretly I think sometimes one of the best bits for him was that he could put his headphones on, sit in his chair and often not even turn the book on. Just so he could get some peace from my nan, as she wouldn't nag him when she thought he was listening one of his books! 


Gemma speaks so highly of her grandfather and we think he, quite rightly, would be proud of what his granddaughter has achieved. So far, Gemma has raised a massive £520, 173% over her goal of £300. Gemma and George, we thank you, as do future generations of Calibre members who, with the help of our supporters, will be able to continue to experience the joy of books for many years to come.

If you would like to take part in your own event to raise money for Calibre, or if you would like to let us know about an event you have already completed, please contact our fundraising team on fundraising@calibre.org.uk