Half centuries mount up for trekking scouts

A Dereham scout group notched up a trio of half-centuries by celebrating their 50th anniversary with a 50-mile hike, conceived as 50th birthday challenge for their inspirational leader.

The 2nd Dereham (Toftwood) group walked the Peddars Way from Knettishall Heath, near Thetford, to Holme-next-the-Sea, in North Norfolk.

The four-day Peddars Plod was the idea of group scout leader Carol Goodbody, who wanted to set herself a personal challenge after developing a visual impairment.

Her condition, retinitis pigmentosa, has affected both her peripheral and central vision and could lead to permanent blindness.

But on the last day of her trek, she said she was thrilled to have brought so many of her friends together while raising money for scout funds and charities.

Mrs Goodbody, who lives on Colleen Close, in Toftwood, said: 'Initially I was prepared to do it as a personal challenge. I needed someone to come along to help in case I fell into a hole, but now I've got 18 people to help me along, which is great. It has been a real team effort, and I have made some new friends here.

'As the condition developed, lots of things were happening which I couldn't do. I decided to do something and, since I could no longer drive, I thought: 'Let's walk.' It all snowballed from there.'

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It is hoped the trek will raise �3,000 to be shared between the scout group and charities including The Kearns Foundation, King's Lynn Different Strokes, Cancer Research UK and MacMillan Cancer Care.

The scout group will use its half of the money for a much-needed upgrade to its headquarters on Shipdham Road in Toftwood.

'We are hoping to extend our headquarters, which was built 30 years ago,' said Mrs Goodbody. 'It was fine for its purpose then, but we need to bring it up to 21st-century standards, with disabled facilities and a new meeting room.'

Nineteen friends and scouts took part in the Peddars Plod, with some walking the whole route and some joining for individual days.

They were assisted by a support team of caterers, first aiders and minibus drivers.

The final day started at the village sign in Anmer, near King's Lynn.

The sign depicts a Roman soldier and a scout, and was originally commissioned by Norfolk Scouts for the Queen on another 50th anniversary – that of the scouting movement in 1957. It was recommissioned and presented to Her Majesty again in 2007.

chris.hill@archant.co.uk

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