Invictus Games veterans, amputee ultrarunner and Love Island stars join 600 walkers for Salisbury landmine charity The HALO Trust
• Funds raised from ‘Safe Steps’ 34km sponsored walk will help HALO clear mines, IEDs and bombs from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka Iraq and 22 other countries.
• Ukrainian competitors from Invictus Games joined BBC presenter and Invictus medallist JJ Chalmers, ex HALO employee and amputee ultramarathon runner Chris Moon and former HALO employee and Love Island finalist Camilla Thurlow
Over 600 people trekked 34km across Salisbury Plain today to raise funds for The HALO Trust to clear mines and bombs around the world.
Joining HALO’s supporters for the Safe Steps Walk were three former Invictus Games competitors from Ukraine, where HALO is clearing mines from the separatist conflict in the east of the country. Fellow Invictus Games medallist and BBC presenter JJ Chalmers also completed the 34km circuit. Speaking after completing the event, JJ said:
‘It’s been an incredible atmosphere here on the Safe Steps walk today and I’ve heard some truly amazing stories along the way. I saw HALO’s life-saving work for myself when I met their deminers in eastern Ukraine. Today’s walk was in solidarity with them and all people around the world who live with mines – and to show that countries can recover from war with the right help.’
The HALO Trust is most famously associated with escorting Diana, Princess of Wales through a cleared minefield in Angola in 1997 and works in more than 25 countries around the world, including Cambodia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Iraq. The charity recently opened an office in Salisbury, in addition to its Scottish headquarters in Dumfriesshire. Chief executive James Cowan said:
‘We seen a remarkable turnout on Salisbury Plain today that shows that Wiltshire wants to get behind its new local global charity. It’s particularly fitting that the MoD gave us special permission to pass through the normally restricted military firing range, reminding us of the daily challenges faced by many people. Nobody should have to dodge a mine when taking their children to school or produce to market. HALO’s landmine clearance saves both lives and livelihoods and it’s fantastic to have the public’s support for our mission.’
Chris Moon, a former HALO employee and amputee ultramarathon runner who lost a lower leg and arm while clearing landmines for HALO in Africa two decades ago said:
‘It’s been so great to be part of the HALO family again. The fact that so many members of the public have turned out to support us is a fantastic tribute to HALO’s 8500 staff clearing landmines around the world every day. Demining is necessary and urgent work, and the sense of kinship at HALO is essential for deminers’ morale.’
Ex-Love Island contestants Jamie Jewitt and Camilla Thurlow, who worked for HALO in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Cambodia before her appearance on the reality show, also completed today’s walk. Since leaving Love Island Camilla has returned to Cambodia for a documentary about HALO which will be shown on ITVBe on Monday 27 May at 1300.
‘It’s been great to catch up with old friends and colleagues at HALO today and help raise awareness of the importance of mine clearance. I was privileged to work for HALO when we cleared the last mines in Mozambique and that gives me great hope that a world without mines really is possible.’