102-year-old former nurse has completed her 102nd charity walk on her 102nd birthday. During the coronavirus lockdown, retired nurse Joan Rich set herself the goal of marking her milestone by completing a charity fundraising challenge. The goal was to complete one hundred and two laps of her local park on her 102nd birthday on September 11th. Having served as an auxiliary nurse and a recognised World War Two veteran, Joan’s fundraiser was in aid of the NHS. The charity walker’s campaign was similar to the feat achieved by Captain Sir Thomas Moore, whose walking efforts raised £32.79 million for the NHS.
As part of her charity walk, Joan used either her frame or her wheelchair to walk from her home, in Suffolk, to nearby Allenby Park and back. After completing the 560 metre walk one hundred and two times, Joan is said to have covered a total distance of over thirty-five miles. During the final stage of her walk, the retired nurse was accompanied by staff and pupils from a local infant school. Also in attendance were members of the Royal Military Police, who gave her a guard of honour as she took the final steps to achieving her target.
Mrs Rich was inspired to embark on the epic fundraiser during a visit to the park. After it was reopened at the end of April, having been closed due to strict lockdown measures, Mrs Rich was inspired by a moving tribute to the NHS. A local resident had mowed the letters “NHS” into a lawn which Mrs Rich took as a call to action. Speaking to PA news agency, Mrs Rich said: “One person can make a difference if they set a goal and persevere. I hope the children who play here (in the park) know that. I hope they achieve things that bring them sunshine in their hearts when they look back on their past.”