The second Walk Tonbridge Festival, which was supported once again by CooperBurnett LLP, has raised nearly £19,000 for charity, with more than £13,000 heading to Sustain, the community food and fuel bank in Tonbridge, and the remainder going to F.E.A.S.T, Hildenborough School and Dementia UK.
The £13,000 which is being sent to Sustain equates to approximately 500 individual food parcels or 260 family food parcels.
“We are absolutely ecstatic to announce the figures raised from this year’s Walk Tonbridge Festival,” says James Pavlou from Walk Tonbridge. “We could not have done this without our event supporters CooperBurnett, Escape Art Centre, Hilden Park Accountants, Tonbridge School, Absolute Creative Print or without the support of an army of friends, family and volunteers. Bring on Walk Tonbridge Festival 2023!”
A highlight of the Festival, which included a variety of guided walks and fringe events, was the Walk Tonbridge Marathon on Sunday 18 September, which was organised by James Pavlou and Katie Hilsdon, a Senior Associate at CooperBurnett. The event saw 75 brave participants tackle a 26.2 mile walk around Tonbridge and its surrounding villages.
The team from CooperBurnett included Partner Joseph Oates and Senior Associate Sarah Strong, who took part in the challenge last year. They were joined this time by Partner Victoria Sampson; Associate Solicitor Ayla Clissold; PA to the Commercial Property Team Hannah Mashford; and Practice Manager Clare Kelly.
Victoria Sampson says of her experience of the ‘marathon’ walk: “Personally, I loved the freedom of spending time with my colleagues without any pressures. I remain in awe of the Kentish countryside and loved discovering new backwaters. Raising money and awareness for Sustain was a key plus for me.”
The food and fuel bank, Sustain, provides emergency food supplies to local people experiencing a short-term need. It relies on donated items from generous local people, schools and businesses. However, the current need exceeds the supply of donated items and it also needs vital funds.
Sustain supports on average 80 households per week, with an additional 30 families accessing its fresh food project. It also established the Sustain Fuel Bank in December 2021, which has supported over 200 households with fuel vouchers and those who are in very extreme situations with items such as cookers, carpets and pyjamas for children.
“We are absolutely staggered by this generous amount and can’t thank everyone enough who has taken part and raised money for Sustain,” says Jemma Graffin, Community Work Coordinator at Tonbridge Baptist Church (where Sustain is based). “The only way for our most vulnerable families to get through this winter is by us all working together and supporting each other. Walk Tonbridge is a brilliant example of community action, bringing people together from across Tonbridge in a fun, active and creative way to support those who need it most. Thank you so very much.”
The Walk Tonbridge Marathon teams set off from Tonbridge Baptist Church as dawn broke. Then the walk took in check points at a variety of local pubs – including The Chaser at Shipbourne, The Poacher and Partridge in Tudeley, and The Bell Inn at Golden Green – where volunteer marshals greeted and encouraged walkers and kept them topped up with water and snacks.
The walk was originally meant to reach its finale at Tonbridge Castle – but this was closed due to the Queen’s death. However, the team at the Escape Art Centre saved the day and proved to be an excellent place for walkers to enjoy a sit down and a welcome cup of tea or glass of beer!
“We are really grateful to everyone who signed up to this challenge, including teams from Crowe UK and Sargeant Partnership LLP, as well as Nordic Walkers from Tonbridge and parents from Hildenborough School; they were all fantastic!” says Joseph Oates. “Thanks also to everyone who volunteered to make the day run so smoothly, as well as all the pubs along the route and the Escape Art Centre. The amount raised is absolutely incredible and largely due to James Pavlou’s vision and hard work. I’d like to think we can hit £25,000 next year!”