AN ARMY major has completed his mission to walk barefoot from Land’s End to Edinburgh to fund the research and development of a gene therapy treatment to help his daughter. 

Major Chris Brannigan, who is based at Tidworth Garrison, set off on his 700 mile journey in July and reached his destination yesterday. 

His eight-year-old daughter Hasti was diagnosed with the disorder Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS) in 2018, which currently has no cure or treatment.

In March, he set up CdLS Hope for Hasti, a charity aiming to fund the research and development of a ground breaking gene therapy treatment for children suffering from the disease. 

Recounting how he felt taking those final steps of his journey, the 40-year-old said: "It was really amazing. It came to me in phases to be honest - the first was crossing the Scottish border and I realised I was within days of Edinburgh and then on the last day as we crossed that final hill, 16 miles away I could see Edinburgh just sitting in the distance.

"Then finally when I turned the corner on to the road where the castle is I saw Hasti stood there and just feel to my knees. This whole journey has been about her and to see her stood there on the finish line was just amazing.

"She came sprinting down the street and gave me a big hug. It was a really amazing moment."

Chris started his walk on July 6 in Cornwall. As well as doing the challenge barefoot, Chris was also carrying 25kgs of kit on his back, including a one-man tent.

After being reunited with his family, they were piped into Edinburgh Castle and Chris says he had a "much needed rest" and sat down with everyone who had been with running with him over the last day.

He says he was able to "reflect on the last 35 days and how amazing and terrible it's been in equal measure". 

"I will remember the unsolicited kindness and generosity I have received from total strangers. At my lowest points at every stage there was always someone who came along and picked me up, encouraged me and gave me hope that I could carry on and finish the task. To be honest if it wasn't for those people I probably would have failed long ago."

Chris says the most challenging part has been "mental" and that he kept walking despite having open wounds on his feet and infections as well as dealing with injury and the weather. 

The total fundraising figure for the Hope for Hasti campaign has surpassed the £400,000 target - reaching £585,000.

"[I feel] relieved because there were periods, particular during the height of the pandemic and lockdown, where we felt we would never be able to raise the money to create this first ever gene therapy for CdLS. To have finished the walk and to have raised all the money we need to create this ground-breaking treatment is a total relief for me," said Chris. 

"We're already working in partnership with a world-leading laboratory called the Jackson Laboratory in the United States and they are working on the gene therapy right now. We are hoping that will be ready by autumn or winter of next year and then at that point we'll start to move into clinical trials where children with CdLS can receive this treatment and improve their lives."

Chris would like to see more done to help children with rare diseases in the UK and government funding to make treatments available. 

During his journey Chris dropped a letter to Downing Street  to draw the Prime Minster and the government's attention to the "poor service" for children with rare diseases in the UK. 

He has also started a petition calling for improvements to the care, support and treatment for children with rare diseases.

"It is not that these diseases are so complex that they can't be treated it is just these children are not deemed financially viable. Even when there are treatments available in other countries they are not made available to our health service and children are allowed to die even though treatments exist," he added. 

"No family should have to suffer knowing that a treatment is possible and is being withheld because our government doesn't want to make money available when they squander money on so many other things without a second thought."

 For more information about the charity go to or to donate click here