Hampshire parishioner sets out on charity walk to Rome

 A parishioner from Gosport, Hampshire, has begun a 1,250 mile walk to Rome in honour of his late wife Anne, and to raise funds for several charities. Nigel Hearnden, 49, began the trek late Sunday night, with support from his local community and leading figures such as the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, the Mayor of Gosport and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth. Nigel will be raising money for four charities that were close to his wife's heart; ActionAid, FORT, Harbour Cancer Support Centre and Gosport Catholic Church Mbetta Project. Working as an internal audit manager, Nigel has put his day job on hold as he walks through France and Italy, eventually reaching Rome in early May, after around 110 days of solid walking. Having served in the Royal Navy from 1975 to 1986, Nigel spent months planning his route and adhering to a busy and strenuous training schedule. Calling his walk the 'Return to Romance' (standing for Return to Rome for Anne and Charities), Nigel decided to undertake this huge task in recognition of his wife and their promise to spend their 30th wedding anniversary in Rome. Sadly, Anne died in of a heart infection, aged 48, in November 2005, despite fully recovering from four years battling cancer. Nigel said: 'This walk is to honour that plan and to celebrate a life taken so suddenly, but it's also to acknowledge many of the people and charities that Anne supported and supported us through Anne's time of need." "This walk will give me a chance to reflect on my wonderful life with Anne including the three amazing sons we've raised. Anne was an honest, warm, loving wife, mother and grandmother. Always full of life, fun and hope even when at her lowest ebb. I miss her so much and want to do this for her; she was a truly wonderful, courageous woman. It's also an opportunity to generate much needed money for a number of charities that were incredibly close to Anne's heart." Following the walk, Nigel's fundraising plans include a charity celebrity golf event at the Quindell Golf and Country Club in July this year. He also plans to write a book on his return, covering the four year emotional journey that Anne and he found themselves on and his current journey to Rome. To read more about Nigel's challenge, see www.return2romance.co.uk or to sponsor him please visit his site: www.justgiving.com/nigelhearnden

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