Hero's welcome for Hatfield man who walked length of country for night shelter
PUBLISHED: 13:52 26 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:40 28 February 2019
Annie Griggs Photography
A Hatfield man was 'emotional' when he saw how many people were there to welcome him home on Saturday after an 888-mile journey on foot to raise money for the local night shelter.
“I expected my mum to be there and a few other people but I didn’t expect so many people there,” he said.
Michael Jones set out in January with a personal challenge: to walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats in a massive fundraising effort for the Hatfield Night Shelter, where he has already worked as a volunteer.
He has quadrupled his initial fundraising goal of £1,000 and the pot now stands at at least £4,065, not including cheques and further donations to come.
Not only this, but Hatfield’s business community has lavished him with well-deserved treats.
“I just want to say thanks to the Hatfield community,” he said.
The walk, he says, was “the best thing I’ve ever done”.
“Saturday night I just sat there on my bed thinking that I’ve just done something that I’ve never done before,” he said.
“It’s an achievement.”
As well as benefiting a cause close to Michael’s heart, the Hatfield Night Shelter, the walk has also been an important personal journey for him.
The walk has given him a chance to think over events in his life as well as challenge himself in the most difficult circumstances.
Some nights, he didn’t reach his hostel in time, so would have to sleep rough.
“It has been scary as well,” he said, recalling walking after dark on country lanes - including one evening when a large badger startled him in the dead of night.
With a 45lb rucksack and an immense physical challenge, he said that some days it would be a huge effort just to put one foot in front of another.
People across the country have been encouraging, especially thanks to a large sign he put on his back announcing the endeavour - but even well-wishers have challenged his resolve.
If they stopped him to chat, he said, “I wanted to say, ‘I don’t want to stop as if I stop I won’t keep going!’”
When the road got too tough he would rest up for a few days and explore the town he was in.
Highlights included meeting up with his uncle in Wigan and visiting the stadium there.
His favourite treat after a long day’s walking would be a warm bath and a Bailey’s, but when he got home to Hatfield he wanted only one thing: a nice milky cup of PG Tips with the teabag left in.
Understandably enough, his current plans are simply to take it easy for a bit and take Benji out for walks, but in the long term he is on the lookout for a part-time job.
Thanks to the Hatfield business community, he can put his feet up in style.
He has been offered a pedicure for his sore feet at Essence Nail and Beauty, and a full English breakfast at Erol’s cafe.
He was greeted with a balloon display donated by the Balloon Creation Station and a banner whipped up in no time by Herts Signs & Graphics.
Aware that Michael’s a keen angler, he has been offered a year’s free fishing membership for North Mymms Angling, while Oakwood Angling in Welwyn and Verulam Angling in St Albans gave him vouchers.
He has also been offered a treatment of his choice at the Welwyn & Hatfield Practice, a haircut at John’s Barber Shop, and treatments at Perfect Balance Clinic and Penn Clinic.
Simmons Bakers have thrown in a £20 voucher, while Bebo Cafe Hatfield has offered ten free hot chocolates.
To donate to his fundraiser, see: www.goldengiving.com/fundraising/michaeljones