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Community coronavirus: our feel good stories of the week

Bedales School has shared this photo of a pupil during a leg of the 'Syria to Steep' challenge.

From trekking over 22,000 steps for a friend with terminal cancer, to delivering PPE care packages across the globe, plenty of people are continuing to make a difference during some unusual times in our communities.

1) Lee Earnshaw - Cancer Fundraising Challenges:

On Saturday 30 May, two North Hampshire men are taking-on a virtual hike of epic proportions, raising money for a fellow British Army veteran with terminal cancer.

Gary Pierce - a 44 year-old army Major, living in Basingstoke, and Andy Moss, a Fleet resident who also served in the army - will tackle 22,100 steps in 24 hours.

The virtual Three Peaks challenge is being carried out alongside 40 other people in the UK and overseas.

Rather than walking Scafell Pike, Snowdon and Ben Nevis on location, the group will each attempt the trek whilst adhering to social distancing near their homes.

Gary is completing the challenge using just 14 steps at a Basingstoke park.

The team have completed a range of fundraising efforts in recent weeks, all in aid of Lee Earnshaw.

A husband and father of three, Lee was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer last year. He was in the army for 22 years.

The proceeds will go towards converting Lee's home to meet his needs, as well as taking his family for one final holiday.

Both Gary and Andy told The Breeze how the last few months have played out:


Image credit: Lee Earnshaw

Lee is now urging others to check themselves for signs of cancer regularly and see their doctor immediately if "any lumps (are) in the wrong places."

His GoFundMe page has received more than £53,000 in donations so far, with a £70,000 target.

2) Bedales School - Syria to Steep Lockdown Fundraiser:

A school in East Hampshire has raised almost £7000, after 200 members of its community ran, walked and cycled the distance from Idlib in Syria, to its site in Steep.

Finishing last weekend, Bedales School collectively clocked-up over 7,000 km in seven days, smashing its initial target of 4,066 km.

The proceeds of the 'Syria to Steep' challenge will benefit two charities that support vulnerable people: the John Badley Foundation and the Rural Refugee Network (RRN).

We got reaction from Julia Newton, the Chair and co-founder of the RRN - which helps those in exile from war-torn countries to resettle safely in the UK:


Image credit: Bedales School

Pupils, staff, alumni, family and friends helped complete the challenge - including people in France, China and Kuwait.

Some of the more creative travellers swam, kayaked, rowed, sailed, skateboarded, scootered and one five year-old pupil even space-hoppered!

Magnus Bashaarat, Head of Bedales, said: “Bedales students and staff have enjoyed working with the Rural Refugee Network over recent years to support their essential work helping refugees escape persecution and civil war.

"This lockdown initiative has been an excellent way for people to join in, and I enjoyed clocking-up some miles last week to raise funds for these two good causes.”

People have been pledging via this fundraising page.

3) The University of Surrey:

An international student in our region has contributed to the fight against COVID-19.

In March, Amy Huang - who is studying for an MSc in Medical Physics at the University of Surrey - returned to her home in China.

Having spent a month in a quarantined hotel when she arrived in Yunnan province, she purchased more than 100 medical face masks from pharmacies in China and mailed them back to Surrey.

These have since been distributed to local care homes, NHS trusts and community centres.

4) Kathleen - 'Keep Smiling Be Safe':

A woman in West Berkshire has been trying to spread some kindness to local drivers.

Earlier this month, Kathleen used her mobility scooter to prop-up signs next to Crookham Common Road, one of which read: "Keep Smiling Be Safe."

Michaela Riley - the Chair and Founder of Spotlight UK, a children's charity in Basingstoke - shared this Facebook post, describing Kathleen as "like a little angel":

She could be seen waving at motorists, with Emma Nicholson commenting that Kathleen had "been doing this since the lockdown started!"

5) Final Clap for Carers Celebrations:

Our final story needs little introduction.

Over the past 10 weeks, residents across the region have paid tribute to key workers who are keeping essential services running during the coronavirus crisis.

People have taken to banging pots, pans and even drums on their streets - many meeting their neighbours for the first time.

Annemarie Plas, the woman who founded Clap for Carers, has suggested that Thursday 28 May would be the final one - for now.

Thames Valley Police have shared this video of officers celebrating employees in the NHS, care industry, emergency services, supermarkets, public transport, the Post Office and many more at 8pm last night (28/05):

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