Civil servant raises £5k for charity in walk across the UK

DSIT official says the voyage has helped him to better understand the impact central decision making has outside of Whitehall
Duncansby Head Lighthouse. The most northeasternly part of the British mainland. Just beyond John o'Groats.

By Tevye Markson

14 Aug 2023

A civil servant has raised more than £5,000 walking the length of the country for charity.

Ian Wainwright, a senior policy advisor at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, took a six-month career break  to walk across the UK, fundraising for Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care.

Wainwright completed the challenge – walking from Land’s End to John o’Groats in memory of his grandfather – in 77 days.









Left: Wainwright starting his journey.
Far left: Marking the journey's start with a personalised note on the famous Land's End  sign


Beginning on 1 May at Land’s End, he reached John o’Groats on 26 July after 77 days of walking, racking up a total distance of 1,260 miles and 3.5 million steps along the way.

Wainwright decided to take on the epic walk after the charity’s nurses visited and cared for his grandfather in his own home before he died last December. Along the way, he climbed Ben Nevis and completed the Cotswold Way; Pennine Way; West Highland Way; Great Glen Way, and the John o'Groats trail, getting through three pairs of boots.  

Below: Wainwright at John o'Groats

Wainwright at John O'GroatsSpeaking to CSW, Wainwright said he now feels he better understands the impact that central decision making has outside of Whitehall.

“I’ve had the chance to talk to people across the country, getting a whole range of perspectives, from post-industrial Cornwall and the solitude of the Cheviots, to the bustling cities of Scotland’s Central Belt,” Wainwright said.

“Even the paths I walked were a direct legacy of the work of civil servants in Natural England and other national bodies.  I could see the impact that tourism has on the rural economy, particularly in Scotland, where initiatives such as the NC500, a scenic route around the North of Scotland, has driven tourism in the area.”

Wainwright said he has also learnt a lot from the voyage that he will bring to his work, mentioning decision-making under pressure, planning and adapting.

“My personal resilience was put to the test at points, especially when the weather was inclement and the going was hard. I had to make countless decisions under pressure to keep myself safe, warm and well,” he explained.

“In addition to the physical burden of hauling a 16kg pack, there was a considerable mental load. I planned my route roughly two or three weeks ahead, but had to adapt to changing weather. I’m extremely grateful to have had so many people join me on my journey, and I adapted the route around transport links and took my friends’ individual needs into account.”

Left: Wainwright removes one of the three pairs of boots he used, to cross over to Lindisfarne in Northumberland

“I’ve had great support from colleagues,” Wainwright added. “I kept them updated during the walk, and some followed my progress on various social media platforms. Old colleagues from previous roles reached out while I was underway, proving what a wonderful set of people civil servants are.”

The DSIT official also described the kindness of strangers along the way, including a farmer’s daughter letting him use her father's field and bringing him tea after he was turned away by one campsite,  a shopkeeper in Scotland giving him free pie, campsites and cafes across Britain refusing to take his money and telling him to make a donation instead,and passers by donating to Rennie Grove Peace on the spot.

Above: The view from Ben Nevis, taken by Wainwright on his fundraising journey

Tracey Hancock, director of fundraising at Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care, said: “We’re so grateful to Ian for all his support and for taking on such a physical challenge. Ian’s grandfather was looked after by our Community Hospice at Home team, a service which focuses on the care that an individual patient needs in the community, often in their own home surrounded by the people and things that matter most to them.

“As a charity, the majority of our funding comes from donations and the generous support of our local community, so fundraising challenges like Ian’s help make a real difference to our ability to support more local patients and those who care for them.”

You can still donate to Wainwright’s challenge, which had raised £5,070 at the time this story went live.

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