An outdoor activity instructor from Honiton has walked the entire length of the South West Coast Path in memory of his niece, Lauren.
Paul Boddington, aged 49, completed the rugged 1,014km coastline hike from Minehead to Poole in just 27 days to raise money for Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW).
His journey took him past two CHSW hospices – Little Bridge House in North Devon and Little Harbour in Cornwall – and he has raised more than £7,500 for the charity.
Lauren was diagnosed with ‘delayed development’ around the age of one. She suffered from fits and respiratory issues, and Paul said that although she was unable to walk or talk, his niece had a lovely cheekiness about her and loved to play with her two siblings and listen to music.
“Unfortunately, the respiratory problems would take her from us unexpectedly and she died near to her 10th birthday in 2008,” said Paul.
This year would have been Lauren’s 21st birthday, so I decided that I wanted to do something special in her memory.
"I started to do some research and after a lot of thought, decided to walk the South West Coast Path.
“Having witnessed the emotional and physical demands on a family with a very sick child, and how valuable some respite can be, I also decided to explore local charities that provided this care. Finding CHSW, and visiting and discussing their amazing work left me in no doubt that I had found the perfect charity to support.”
Paul set off on his Walk 1,000 for Lauren on Sunday 15 September 2019, cooking and camping as he made the long journey to South Haven Point in Dorset.
“As hard and doubting as the first few days were, by breaking it down into daily challenges and comparing my pain against that of the families at CHSW and thinking of little Lauren, it was an easy decision to push on,” said Paul.
The stunning views, far too numerous to mention, also made it more enjoyable than painful.
"Despite a sore leg and at times, some harsh weather, the journey was amazing, and I received so much support and met so many lovely people along the way.
“At 7.15pm on Saturday 12 October 2019, I finally arrived into South Haven Point to meet my fantastic family and friends. This was a truly wonderful experience that I will never forget.”