St Albans charity walker 'overwhelmed' by kindness of strangers along 900mile trek

PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 August 2019

Ben walked from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall for the Mental Health Foundation. Ben with his brother, Dan. Picture: Ben Garcia

Ben walked from John O'Groats in Scotland to Land's End in Cornwall for the Mental Health Foundation. Ben with his brother, Dan. Picture: Ben Garcia

Archant

Strangers from around the country were "overwhelmingly" generous to a St Albans chef completing a charity trekking challenge.

Ben walked from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall for the Mental Health Foundation. Picture: Ben GarciaBen walked from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall for the Mental Health Foundation. Picture: Ben Garcia

Ben Garcia walked nearly 900miles from John O'Groats in Scotland to Land's End in Cornwall throughout May to August in aid of the Mental Health Foundation.

He smashed his goal of £2,000 by raising more than £3,300 for the charity, which is working to achieve the same progress for mental health as the medical profession has in physical health.

The 28-year-old was surprised by the kindness of strangers along the way, who offered accommodation, money, meals, and friendly conversation without expecting anything in return.

One offer of hotel bed and board came from a woman who read a previous Herts Ad article about Ben's challenge, published in May.

Ben walked from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall for the Mental Health Foundation. Picture: Ben GarciaBen walked from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall for the Mental Health Foundation. Picture: Ben Garcia

Ben said: "It was a real adventure. It was a lot of things, it was highs and lows, it was mentally and physically demanding, but it was really rewarding.

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"I met all these amazing people and I think one of the things that took me by surprise was I thought that people were going to be my biggest danger - but actually they helped me the most.

"As soon as I told people about what I was doing it allowed them to open up and give, and everyone was giving. It was totally overwhelming."

Ben walked from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall for the Mental Health Foundation. Picture: Ben GarciaBen walked from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall for the Mental Health Foundation. Picture: Ben Garcia

"I can't do anything but be thankful, I couldn't do anything in return."

Carrying a 12kg rucksack, Ben hiked around 20 miles a day on average and was sometimes accompanied by friends and family who joined him for sections of the walk.

He said: "It was great, you could talk to somebody and have that support, it broke up the routine of how I walked but it was nice to share that experience with someone."

Ben thanked his wife Danielle for her support: "I wouldn't have been able to do this if D hadn't supported me because even though you are by yourself, D was always on the end of a phone when things got hard."

Ben walked from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall for the Mental Health Foundation. Picture: Ben GarciaBen walked from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall for the Mental Health Foundation. Picture: Ben Garcia

Having been travelling and working as a chef for about a decade, Ben plans to move to the US with Danielle in the future.

Donate to Ben's challenge at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/BenGarcia.walks

Find out more about the Mental Health Foundation at www.mentalhealth.org.uk

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