Man, 62, walking from France to Hastings to raise funds for granddaughter with Cerebral Palsy

David with his granddaughter Violet
David with his granddaughter Violet

A doting grandfather is walking from France to Hastings to raise money for his four-year-old granddaughter.

David Jeapes is taking on the million step challenge to help fund treatment for young Violet, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy and needs round the clock care.

The 62-year-old business consultant started the 481-mile sponsored walk from his home in the village of Saint Pardoux, in central France, on September 6. He expects to arrive in his granddaughter’s hometown of Hastings a month later, on October 6.

He said: “Violet’s Cerebral Palsy and complex medical needs means she needs round the clock care, takes daily medication and needs equipment to walk, play and stand. As she gets older her needs will change and more things will be required so she can learn and grow.

“You would think that Government help is there for children like Violet, but sadly, it often isn’t. Unfairly, everything is hard, each day brings new challenges, some successes, many failures and stresses, but Violet’s parents continue their fight for her – and I am doing my part by Walking for Violet.”

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David plans to walk 30km a day with five rest days during the month. He will spend 26 days walking in France and four-and-a-half days in the UK.

By his own admission, he was unfit when he first had the idea of walking for Violet, back in January. He invested in a multi-gym, went on a diet and began to train by doing longer and longer walks, regardless of the weather.

He said: “As well as being physically demanding, I know that the journey will be both mentally and emotionally hard for me too. Some days each step might burn, and some days I might feel like giving up... but none of my steps will ever be as hard as the first steps that my granddaughter took in her specialised walker. The determination on her little face is motivation enough.”

David’s journey will take him through dozens of small towns, villages and hamlets, and into the heart of the French countryside.

He set off from Saint Pardoux on September 6 and walked to Blanchard, then on to Châtaignie and La Bretonnière by September 17. The next five days until September 22 will see him arrive at Sillé Plage, and a further five days will take him to Putanges-Pont-Écripin. From September 27 to October 1, he aims to make it to Ouistreham Ferry Port, where he will travel over to the UK. He will then undertake the final stretch of his journey, from Portsmouth Port to Hastings, from October 2 to 6.

David has already raised more than £11,000 and is hoping to hit £15,000 by the time his walk is complete.

All donations will be shared between Violet’s Fund and two other charities – one in the UK and one in France. Charity for Kids and APEEIMC will both receive 10 per cent of the total funds raised as of October 31.

Becky Jeapes, Violet’s mum, said: “These funds will make an incredible difference to our lives as a family and to Violet individually. Next year we need to embark on a massive journey of home adaptations which will be self funded.

“These works will easily be in excess of £40,000 so all donations are so, so needed and welcomed. The adaption will allow for Violet to have her own room and therapy, equipment and sensory room.”

To find out more or to sponsor David, visit walkingforviolet.com.