Wigan friends walking coast to coast for soldier

Nicola Partington and Annette Lowton
Nicola Partington and Annette Lowton

Best friends are pulling on their walking shoes for a mammoth coast-to-coast walk with a special meaning.

Nicola Partington and Annette Lowton will spend eight days walking across the country, covering 192 miles from St Bees in the Lake District to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire.

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They were inspired to take on the challenge by Annette’s brother Mark Kenny, 39, who took his own life in June 2013.

While sorting through his belongings, his family found the route and plans for Mark to do the walk himself.

They will follow a similar route and will be raising money in Mark’s honour.

He joined the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment when he was just 16, serving in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Germany and Cyprus. He struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the Army.

So the women, who both work as domestics for Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, are raising money for the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Veteran’s Charity, to help get a memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum for the regiment’s 50th anniversary in 2020.

Money will also be used to support the regiment’s veterans and for the Lancashire Infantry Museum.

Annette, 42, from Standish, said: “When we found the route in his bedroom, I promised my mum I would do it.”

She has been doing plenty of training in preparation for the challenge, which starts on June 2.

Annette said: “It’s going really well. Every day after work we are walking for five hours. We have Sunday as a rest. It’s between 15 and 17 miles.”

She will be walking with Nicola, 42, who has been her friend since school.

Nicola, who has four children, hopes to honour Mark but also hopes it will help her battle with depression.

She said: “I can’t wait, I’m really excited. I’m ready for a rest but I’m looking forward to it. We have been training for months now.”

Members of the regiment will join the pair for part of the walk and have provided Army rations for them to eat.

They will be supported along the way by Annette’s mother Ann Meehan and stepfather Tony Meehan.

To sponsor the women, go to mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/sonyasmith1.