23 Feb 2016

How one fundraiser is inspiring kindness across Britain and Ireland

Alex Ellis-Roswell

Intrepid MyDonate fundraiser, Alex Ellis-Roswell, is now 18 months into his walk around the UK and Ireland to raise funds for the RNLI.

In August 2014 he set off on his three-year challenge to raise awareness and money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and will cover a back breaking 9,500 miles in total.

Along the way, Alex has experienced the kindness of strangers, whom he says have kept him going during the toughest times.

Warm meal and a bed for the night

For example, there was Will, a chimney sweep who Alex met during his walk from Land’s End eastward along the north coast of Cornwall.

At the end of a day spent walking in torrential rain, Alex stopped at a pub to fill up some bottles with water.

“That's where I bumped into Will, at the bar,” says Alex. “After he bought me couple of ciders, he invited me back to his house for stew and somewhere indoors to sleep for the night. I remember when I got back to his, he said: "You're more than welcome to a bath but you'd probably be better off having a shower as it's black with soot.”

Drivers with a heart

Then there were the friendly motorists along the N25 from Midleton to Cork who offered Alex a lift.

Says Alex: “The N25 isn’t designed for pedestrians, it's a four lane fast moving carriageway. It just so happened it was pouring down with rain that day and I had 25 miles to cover.

“When there was a hard shoulder lane, I was being stopped every few minutes by cars offering to drive me into Cork. They weren't to know I was on a charity walk and I had to awkwardly decline every one of the offers for a lift.

“The looks and responses I got were varied but I got called mad a few times that day.”

Oilskins to the rescue

Tackling stormy weather has been a consistent challenge on Alex’s walk. But in Ireland, a kind-hearted salmon farm worker came to Alex’s aid.

“The west coast of Ireland was being battered at the time I was walking into Glengarriff, County Cork, and I was absolutely soaked through from a day of walking in the rain.

“Phil had passed me in the car and seen how unprepared I was for the weather, so he came to find me in the pub that night. There, he donated me his yellow oilskins from when he worked on the salmon farm. On the inside he wrote: "To Alex, may you stay dry forever. Best of luck, Phil, Glengarriff."

Unbridled generosity pays dividends

Alex, who has now reached County Kerry, says he’s been lucky to receive so much kindness from so many different people over the last 563 days of his journey.

“At times I wouldn't have been able to keep going on this fundraising walk if it weren't for the kindness and warmth of strangers. I'm eternally grateful for everything I've received and have the rest of my life to pay it all forward to others who are in need.”

You can follow Alex’s efforts on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, and add to the £12,600 already raised by making a donation on his BT MyDonate fundraising page.

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