A WORLD War II veteran has raised nearly £11,000 for a Forest of Dean Hospice by walking 97 laps of his garden.
Trooper Denis Ireland finished his mammoth fundraising event, which was inspired by Captain Tom Moore’s similar endeavour, on his 97th birthday.
Denis, who serves with the 16th/5th Lancers Regiment during the war, completed his walk over the weekend surrounded by family, BBC film crews and staff from Great Oaks.
He told this newspaper that he was delighted to be able to support Great Oaks with his fundraising walk as it does “wonderful work” within the community.
Denis, who was a radio operator on tanks in Italy and North Africa, used his zimmer frame to help him along his walk.
Debbie Hutchinson, the hospice’s charity fundraiser, said: “We went over to Denis’ house with a character cake and hand-sketched card signed by us here at the hospice and it was made by one of our members of staff as a thank you to Denis for all that he has done.
“When Jan, Denis’ daughter, first came to me and said that her dad would like to do a Captain Tom inspired challenge I was absolutely delighted and I have loved every minute of the journey.
“We have had a wonderful weekend and are all so grateful to Denis, his family and anyone that has supported him.
“I will most certainly miss chatting to Denis even week, promoting his walk.”
Member of Parliament, Mark Harper, paid Denis a visit and chatted with him early on during his challenge.
A spokesperson for Great Oaks Hospice said: “Firstly it has been a tremendous morale booster for everyone knowing that the whole community and beyond are behind us and supporting the hospice in different ways.
“Denis’ fundraising will enable us to continue to support the community through our Hospice at Home Service providing visits from our experienced team of nurses, plus Day Service, Outreach, Bereavement Services and Complementary Therapy through telephone support.”
The spokesperson added: “It is crucial that people know that we are and have been continuing to support people and their families during the lockdown period, but also into the future too.
“We cannot thank everyone enough for all the support shown to us during this strange time, we sincerely thank them all, but especially Trooper Denis for his inspiring and dogged determination.”
Great Oaks provides supportive, palliative and end of life care programmes to people free of charge.
It needs £600,000 a year to fund its services and although he NHS contributes a small percentage, the rest is funded through its shops, fundraising events, grants, donations and legacies.