Norfolk 76-year-old in 50-mile charity walk

A determined grandma full of youthful energy has tackled a 50-mile charity walk.

Irene Marshall, from Shipdham near Dereham, was a keen hiker in her younger days, enjoying walking holidays in Scotland, the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

Now the 76-year-old has dug out her back-pack and pulled on her boots once more to raise money for her church's roof fund.

Dereham Cowper Memorial Congregational Church, in the market place, needs to raise �100,000 for the roof repairs and Mrs Marshall was keen to do her bit.

'Everybody has pulled out all the stops for the project and I wanted to go that extra mile,' she said. 'I thought 'what on earth can I do?' and then it came to me – I can walk.

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'A week and one day later and it will all be done and dusted. It's amazing how it came together so quickly.

'We're not a church where we like to ask for money, but a lot of people have come forward offering to sponsor me and they have been very generous.

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'I'm aiming to raise around �500.'

Mrs Marshall, who has three children and six grandchildren, has completed the 50 miles over three days this week, starting and finishing at her home in Eastgate.

On Monday she walked just under 19 miles, taking in Saham Hills, Saham Toney and Ashill, near Watton, and Bradenham before heading home for a rest. The following day she battled through the wet weather to complete more than 15 miles and yesterday she went for 20 miles, setting off at around 6.45am.

She has been joined by one of her granddaughters, Keely Bush, 22, from nearby Daffy Green, who has just graduated from Aston University, in Birmingham.

'I was going to do it on my own, but she wanted to come with me,' Mrs Marshall said.

'We've had some lovely chats while we walk,'

Miss Bush, who begins a teacher training course shortly, inherited her grandmother's love of walking and also has some rock climbing experience under her belt.

Mrs Marshall, a retired care home worker, attends the church three times a week and runs a coffee morning every Friday. Work at the church has now started and the congregation has had to use the Sunday school room in the meantime. Fund-raisers hope to be able to hold their annual harvest thanksgiving service in the church later this year.

Call Mrs Marshall on 01362 820664 to sponsor her.

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