A CHEERING crowd greeted a tradesman who walked 220 miles to raise cash for the charity that he credits with saving his life.
Mark Harmer set off from Christians Against Poverty (CAP), based at Bracknell's Kerith Community Church centre, on Thursday, May 3, and reached the agency's headquarters, in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on Tuesday, May 22.
The 45-year-old had walked through nearly three weeks of rain and floods, but the sun shone on the last day as he ran through a guard of clapping supporters, many of whom had helped him with the debt counselling he needed after he hit rock bottom.
CAP founder and international director John Kirkby showered him with champagne and congratulated his incredible effort - which has raised nearly �1,500 for the charity.
Mr Harmer, a roofer from Harmans Water, said: "I can honestly say I have enjoyed every step - even the bits where I was waist high in water. The people from CAP who have fed and watered me and let me stay with them in their homes along the way have been the most wonderful people and it is something I'll never forget." Mr Harmer turned to CAP, in Bracknell, after being hit hard by the recession and facing unemployment after the failure of his business.
He started suffering from depression and even considered suicide as his debts stacked up. But Mr Harmer is soon to be debt free, thanks to CAP's support and advice on debt management.
He said: "Working with CAP and its Bracknell centre over the last couple of years, I am now almost debt free and am enjoying a whole new outlook on life. I called my walk The Hope Challenge because, while I might not have found faith, I have found hope." To sponsor Mr Harmer visit www.justgiving.com/thehopechallenge Anyone needing debt advice should see www.capdebthelp.org or call 0800 328 0006.