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Charity worker’s 1,000-mile walk for ‘vital’ new facilities

PUBLISHED: 15:58 26 April 2016 | UPDATED: 15:58 26 April 2016

Kate Smith is raising money for new bathroom facilities at Age UK Dartford

Kate Smith is raising money for new bathroom facilities at Age UK Dartford

Archant

She is helping Age UK’s Gravesend Centre to raise money for a new bathroom

A woman from High Halstow is planning to walk 1,000 miles in one year in a bid to raise funds for new facilities at Age UK’s centre in Gravesend.

Kate Smith, 51, is taking on the gruelling challenge to help refurbish the centre’s bathrooms, which provide a vital service for many older residents in the community.

As the charity only receives limited funding from Kent County Council, a big fundraising project was required - and Mrs Smith, an experienced walker who has climbed Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Yorkshire’s Three Peaks, rose to the occasion.

She plans to achieve her goal within the space of a year, reaching her target by February 1, 2017.

She said: “The bathroom here at the centre is in desperate need of refurbishment. We have two baths that are over 25 years old, and they no longer make the parts for them.

“It is going to cost over £20,000 to refurbish them, and what we wanted to do is create a wet room with a shower at one end and a bath at the other.

“The facilities are used by people who can’t access the bathroom because they are not on the ground floor, or it doesn’t have the right adaptations, for instance, so they come to the centre.

“And some people have a shower but like to get into a bath. We have a big demand for it.”

Across Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley, the Care Quality Commission-registered Bathing Service Team carries out over 150 baths per week.

Mrs Smith already has an impressive record when it comes to charity walks, having completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge twice for Age Concern Gravesend and raised approximately £600 on each occasion,

She also completed The Lions Hospice Walkathon 2012, walking from London Bridge to The Lions Hospice, Northfleet, and a walk for Stansted Church along the Pilgrims’ Way to Rochester in the same year.

“I like walking anyway and I am an experienced hill walker,” said Mrs Smith.

“To achieve my goal I do need to be walking three miles a day at least.

“I get up early! I do three miles usually before I come into work and two ten-mile walks at the weekend.

“I live in the Hoo Peninsula and walk round there, and at weekends we will do walks or hikes in the country.

“On my days off I do circular walks, and I am looking to do the three peaks again this year.

“My husband Gerry and daughter Melanie get dragged along with me, and we have two co-workers who sometimes come along.”

Mrs Smith said the fundraising campaign was slow to get off the ground but has been attracting more and more attention.

“We had to set up a donation site which took a lot of doing,” she said. “Staff are getting out collecting for me.

“This is the biggest walk I have done.”

She has alreadly walked 205 miles - a fifth of her target.

To help Mrs Smith achieve her goal, visit https://mydonate.bt.com/events/kates1000milewalk/294208

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