FORMER Beaudesert High School champion runner Adam Tomlinson has returned to Australia after walking 315 kilometres across England with his wife and two daughters to raise money for the Daniel Morcombe Foundation.
The adventure was planned as a way to celebrate the couple’s 40th birthdays this year, with the walk starting at St Bees on the east coast and ending at Robin Hood’s Bay on the west coast.
Mr Tomlinson, his wife Donna and daughters seven-year-old Isla and nine-year-old Sydney took on the challenge across rugged and beautiful terrain, after taking part in the Walk for Daniel every year and wanting to do more.
Mr Tomlinson, who was Beaudesert High School’s Sports Star of the Year twice in the early 90s, said the pair had also taken on a challenge for their 30th birthdays, having hiked the Kokoda Track along with a family group including his father, Rob Tomlinson.
He said walking with children was very different, so the family had started training for it early this year, taking Sunday hikes until they worked up to 20km a day, their goal for the UK hike.
“We strategically planned for three rest days over the 19 days of walking,” he said.
Mr Tomlinson said the family found themselves stuck in dangerous weather conditions on day 10 as storm Ali struck, resulting in two deaths in the UK.
“The storm brought winds of 80 miles per hour (128km) and there was no shelter because we were on the moors,” he said.
“We just huddled together and had pep talks through the lightning, thunder and horizontal wind and rain that was just hitting us in the face.
“We nearly got lost – a lot of the way we had walked with other hikers but in this situation we were alone until an American man and his mum came along.
“We finally got a lift into the next town. If I didn’t have the girls with me I would have toughed it out a bit longer but it was hell.”
Mr Tomlinson’s sister Sara Grant said family and friends in Australia, including some old mates from high school days, had followed their progress on social media and were very proud of their achievements.
“It blew us away that Adam and his wife Donna with their daughters who are so young managed to walk all that way, raising almost $2500 for a very worthy cause,” she said.
“Isla is the second youngest child recorded to have done that walk.”
Ms Grant said the challenge was a personal achievement for her brother and sister-in-law and had also provided them with a way to teach their girls how to achieve their goals.
To donate to the cause, visit danielmorcombe.com.au/fundraiser/event/walk-across-england-for-child-safety-awareness