Charity founder walks 'emotional' 46 miles barefoot

Matt Willer walked the 46 mile Peddars Way barefoot to raise awareness of the need for people to tread to carefully

Matt Willer walked the 46 mile Peddars Way barefoot to raise awareness of the need for people to tread to carefully - Credit: Matt Willer

The founder of a Norfolk charity has walked the 46-mile Peddars Way barefoot to raise awareness of humanity’s need to “tread carefully” in its treatment of the planet. 

Former secondary school teacher Matt Willer, who lives near North Walsham, decided to complete the route shoeless with the aim of raising £10,000 for the charity he founded - the Papillon Project. 

“I did so, because it’s a real personal challenge, but also I was trying to express the enormous need of being very careful with our own carbon footprint, because if we’re not careful with that one, then we’re going to run into some very serious problems,” said Mr Willer. 

Matt Willer walked the 46-mile Peddars Way barefoot

The founder of a Norfolk charity has walked the 46-mile Peddars Way barefoot in an effort to raise awareness of humanity’s need to “tread carefully” in its treatment of the earth. - Credit: Matt Willer

Walking the path from Knettishall Heath to Holme-next-the-Sea was no easy task and Mr Willer admitted that his feet were “not looking their best” by the end.

He said: “I literally did have to tread very carefully because at some points it was incredibly painful and if I’m honest it’s the most physically challenging thing that I’ve ever done.


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“It was quite emotional at some points to be honest, because it was a very reflective experience."

Finishing the walk in an impressive 21 hours, Mr Willer raised £8,000, and said he was “very optimistic” of a further £2,000 being donated - bringing him to his original £10,000 target.

Matt Willer walked the 46 mile Peddars Way barefoot to raise awareness of the need for people to tread to carefully

Matt Willer walked the 46 mile Peddars Way barefoot to raise awareness of the need for people to tread to carefully - Credit: Matt Willer

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The funds raised will go towards creating and developing allotments at the charity’s next wave of schools.

“It’s not only about promoting environmental awareness, it’s about inspiring young people to think about leading more sustainable lives,” said Mr Willer, who added that the allotments improve young people's wellbeing by offering “temporary escapism” from the “hustle and bustle” of the school day. 

In addition, he said, the allotment projects “inspire young people to be more mindful of where their food comes from".

Founded in 2019, the Papillon Project, which raises awareness of environmental issues with young people, celebrated its second anniversary as a charity in July, at an event held in the Bishop of Norwich’s private garden.

The Papillon Project celebrated its second anniversary in the Bishop of Norwich's private garden

The Papillon Project celebrated its second anniversary in the Bishop of Norwich's private garden - Credit: Sara Green

If you would like to donate to the Papillon Project, visit http://www.thepapillonproject.com/

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