Abingdon Boys Take on Historical - and Gruelling - Walking Challenge
Around 20 Abingdon boys are hoping to repeat the feat of 13 sixth formers who in 1963 walked 63 miles in 24 hours to mark the 400th anniversary of the endowment of Abingdon School by John Roysse.
On Sunday 23 March 1963, thirteen Abingdon boys set out to walk 63 miles from Worcester to Abingdon. They travelled to Worcester by train and then set off that evening to walk back to Abingdon along roads. However, the 2013 walkers will begin their challenge on the Ridgeway long-distance footpath. Starting in Avebury, Wiltshire, they will walk through the night of 28 April along the Ridgeway before joining the Thames Path at Streatley, and, from there, walk back to Abingdon, arriving around 4pm on 29 April, if all goes according to plan. Training for this year's walk began in November 2012, and there will be six practice sessions before the group takes up the challenge. The gallery below contains pictures from the practice walks.
Taking part in the walk will be 17-year-old Peter Moore from Milton who said, ‘I feel honoured to be involved in this repeat of part of the School's history. It will be a huge challenge but I'm sure it will be fun and we will come back feeling we have achieved a great feat of endurance.’
In charge of the walk is maths teacher and experienced staff member for Gold DofE expeditions, Jan Wiejak. Jan says, ‘The School’s archives show that there was some debate around the1963 walk as to whether the “youth of today” were up to such an expedition - not dissimilar to what is often said about today’s teenagers; it will be quite a challenge but I am confident that the boys will be successful.’
So far, five of the 1963 walkers (Adrian Burn, Angus Fraser, Tym Marsh, Trevor Pegram and Christopher Winfield), now all in their 60s, are planning to join the 2013 walkers for part of the way back, while other members of the 1963 group will be at the School to welcome the boys upon their return.
Adrian Burn, who was the first, alongside Tym Marsh, to complete the walk in 1963 in an impressive 20 hours 15 minutes said, ‘I am sure the boys will feel a real sense of achievement in completing this walk, as we did, and I wish them well.’
The boys have set a fundraising target of £6,300 (£100 per mile) for this gruelling challenge and sponsorship donations will go to the Abingdon School Bursary Fund (50%) and the Childhood Cancer Research Trust Fund of Oxford Radcliffe Hospital (50%).
To make fundraising and donation collection simple and easy (including Gift Aid), the team has set up a secure Abingdon School fundraising web page for their walk with Virgin Moneygiving.
Parents and Old Abingdonians are also invited to join the walkers for their last 9 miles from Streatley. Abingdon staff, including the Head, Felicity Lusk, will be walking, too.
The length of the walk, 63 miles, is significant because John Roysse, who was 63 in the year 1563, was a principal benefactor of Abingdon School and his funding was for 63 free scholars in a schoolroom that was 63 feet long. The original schoolroom, known as the Roysse Room, is now part of the Guildhall in Abingdon. The number 63 remains important to the School today, it is the last two digits of the main school telephone number and the school bell is rung 63 times to mark significant occasions. The bell will be rung to welcome the boys back to School on 29 April.