These boots are made for walking sang Nancy Sinatra in 1966. To be truthful I don’t think Nancy would have got that far in the stiletto heeled beauties that she wore in the footage that exists from the time.

However,  footwear aside, this is a song about taking action, about getting up and doing something, delivered with some charisma from Ms Sinatra.

Since taking over the role of CEO at Stratford Town Trust I have been privileged to meet hundreds who do just that. People who get up and take action supporting others in the community, either through their employment with a local charity, as a regular volunteer or through fundraising. They are literally an army of people positively and discreetly supporting others every day.

Through my everyday conversations I know only too well the hand to mouth existence faced by charity leaders trying to keep their services running year on year; unable to plan too far forward due to an uncertain and precarious funding landscape as we move inexorably towards the charitisation of the NHS.  This was brought home to me in a recent article in industry magazine Third Sector which highlighted the crisis facing the hospice sector; with a warning that they face a continued decline in fundraising income whilst costs will predictably rise. The hard truth is that these are services that we will all experience either personally, or through care of a loved one.

I understand that every charity providing support is valuable and this isn’t about singling out one type of care as more important than another. In January I made a commitment to take a challenge and hopefully raise some money at the same time, which is why on Sunday 14th May I will be lacing up my boots and walking 26 miles of the Shakespeare Way as part of the Shakespeare Hospice challenge. It costs them £3 million each year to run the Hospice and only £330k of that comes directly from the NHS. Every other penny they raise themselves. Every year. I can’t imagine my working life being driven by that pressure. Walking 26 miles will be a breeze by comparison.

And so for me, this year was about walking the talk.

So, it’s just walking, it can’t be that hard, right? In the past I’ve trained for and completed a couple of half marathons; I walk to work most days and I walk my dog Daisy every day.

I love walking, the rhythm of your steps and your breathing, fresh air and the sound of nature around you. There is nothing like a good long walk to clear your mind and reawaken your senses, but I never walk 26 miles in one go, and I never have.

So far training walks have included an 8 miler around Moreton in Marsh, thirty miles in three days of sightseeing in Paris and a few 12 milers to The Farm and back. On all occasions I have had to have a nap in the afternoon. This does not bode well for the actual event where the aim is to complete the walk-in daylight hours.

Our Grants Manager tells me  that Jaffa Cakes and jelly babies are great for emergency energy and so I will be stocking up on those immediately.

So what about equipment? If this were a triathlon (and thank goodness it isn’t), I could spend a fortune on high performance technically engineered clothing and gizmos. The beauty of walking is you need very little in specific kit and I have some worn in and comfortable walking boots. So far so good, but I am led to believe it’s the socks that will give you the blisters, so I am now on a quest to find the optimal pair – not too thick or thin and preferably seam free. Any advice gratefully received.

I am fan of a walking pole and so mine will be joining me relieving some of the pressure on my back and knees and hopefully making me look like a pro.

Beyond that, some loose clothing (beware the chafe!) is all I need, and I might wear a hat.

Of course I could go all London Marathon and go dressed as Scooby Doo or something equally obscure and sweaty. Maybe not.

Locally, we are fortunate to have four splendid organisations supporting Stratford folk with a range of hospice care. Myton Hospice, Shakespeare Hospice and Acorn Hospice and Shipston Home Nursing. They all face a gap in their funding and so if you feel minded to support them in ways that get you active, I urge you to visit their websites where you will find loads of community focused fundraising challenges from skydives and inflatable assault courses to the unbeatable (in my opinion) cake sale.

So wish me luck for the 14th May and if you see me on my training walks tramping round the local footpaths or pavements of Stratford do give me a wave or chuck me a jelly baby.