When the first lockdown started in March 2020, long-time supporter Tricia Jones knew she had to do something to help keep fundraising for Tŷ Hafan, as well as keep active for her own mental and physical health. Not knowing what else to do, she started to walk every day – and before she knew it she was on her very own 2,000 mile personal odyssey for her favourite charity. Here Tricia explains how it all came about and what she has achieved.
Tricia Jones underneath the finish line banner her husband, Ian, made to celebrate her efforts.
“At the start of lockdown a year ago, I quickly realised that Tŷ Hafan and, for that matter, all other charities, were really going to struggle.
“I’m a member of the Pembrokeshire Burton Fundraising Group and ever since we first started up 15 years ago, we have held lunches and coffee mornings which have been the backbone of our fundraising activity.
“But as the coronavirus took over the world we had no idea when we would be able to resume such activities – and, when older people would regain their confidence to go out and socialise. The situation looked bleak.
“I’d first become involved with Tŷ Hafan when my daughter was a reporter working in Milford Haven. She was covering a 5km fun run and she said ‘Come on, Mum. Just come along for the ride.’ So I did. There were a lot of people there and I got talking to some people who were supporting runners for Tŷ Hafan. I realised then and there what a wonderful charity it is, and it was from that moment that I become involved. I set up the Burton Friends of Tŷ Hafan with six friends and that was it.
“But the pandemic and lockdown was something else, an overwhelming challenge that none of us could ever have anticipated.
“At that time my mother, who has dementia, was staying with myself and my husband, Ian, and I found it very important to get out at least once in the day for a walk, for my own mental and physical health.
“March turned into April and then before we knew it, it was July and lockdown started to lift. I looked at my phone and I was amazed to see just how far I had walked in those four months. It was then that I thought, OK, let’s see if I can turn this walking into something more than just an escape for me – can I turn it into something useful for Tŷ Hafan?
“I decided on 2,000 miles because that seemed like a challenge. I tackled it by committing to walk six to eight miles every day, whatever the weather and I set up a JustGiving page for people to donate.
“Initially, I would just walk from my house to the local beach, but then I started to go a little further, taking in the Cleddau Bridge.
“Goodness knows what some people must have thought when they saw me! ‘There she goes again. Will she come back today?’ When in fact I was just walking around and around in, albeit large, circles.
“But it felt so good to do, and especially when we went back into lockdown and through the very dark days of winter. Because not only was I walking for Tŷ Hafan, but it gave me a routine. It gave me something to plan. Where was I going to walk that day? And when? It made me calmer and more relaxed. Walking every day definitely has a positive impact on you.
“I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who has donated to my JustGiving page. I’d set out to raise £1,000, but to date people have donated more than double that.
“It was on 3 February that I realised that I had achieved the 2,000 mile mark. I was walking with my friend and fellow fundraiser Jane Morris along our local beach. It was a very good moment for me indeed.”
Tricia’s fundraising page remains open here. To date she has raised more than £2,500.