A RETIRED aircraft engineer walked a mammoth distance during lockdown, to raise money for Macmillan Caring Locally.

Ian Thornton, 77, from Ringwood, walked 727 miles in 100 days, raising more than £1,000 in the process.

He initially planned on just walking 500 miles around Ringwood, but branched out and added the extra mileage on, walking around the New Forest.

Ian said: “When the lockdown started, I decided to take my hour of daily exercise by walking.

“Whilst on the phone to a good friend, he asked how far I had intended to go.

“I said it would be a good idea to set a target and came up with 100 consecutive days.

“He then burst into song with 'I Would Walk 500 Miles’ - so that became the challenge - to walk 500 miles in 100 days.

“I’ve discovered so many new routes and footpaths in the beautiful forest. It has been a wonderful experience.”

Ian’s challenge has raised £1,090 for Macmillan Caring Locally in Christchurch.

MCL, which is not related to the national Macmillan charity, supports the Macmillan Unit at Christchurch Hospital which cares for more than 1,600 patients with life-limiting illnesses each year.

Ian said: “Over the years, my wife Lynda and I have known many colleagues and friends who have benefitted from care provided by Macmillan Caring Locally and two very dear friends spent their final days there.

“The care, love and compassion shown to them was outstanding and any help we can give to the charity seems worthwhile.”

Ian was greeted at the end of his 100th consecutive walk by his wife and a group of cheering friends.

He added: “I'm pleased to have been able to help a little and I hope that as more people hear about my challenge they might add to my fundraising or consider doing something for MCL themselves.

“I’m not sure what to do next, but I feel I should do something else, so watch this space.”

Barry Wilson, the community and events fundraiser for Macmillan Caring Locally, said: “Everyone at Macmillan Caring Locally is deeply impressed and appreciative of what Ian has done for the charity.

“The Macmillan Unit has seen a significant drop in income because many of its fundraising events have been cancelled due to lockdown. The efforts and kindness of supporters like Ian is invaluable to us.

“Walking 727 miles in 100 days is a huge achievement and I was honoured to join Ian’s friends as they welcomed him home with a huge cheer.”