SKIPTON'S own 'Willy Wonka' and groom to be, William Whitaker, has set himself an unusual challenge.

Not only does he plan to walk the 84 miles Dales Way to his wedding to Gemma Needham in the Lake District on Saturday, June 17.

But the owner of Whitakers Chocolates will walk from Ilkley, where he lives, to Bowness-on-Windermere dressed as Roald Dahl's Wonka complete with his very own chief Oompa Loompa, Jerry Holmes.

The pair hope to raise at least £20,000 for cricket legend Sir Ian Botham's charity foundation - and to set them on their way, 'Beefy' himself has promised to come along.

They plan to set off from the official start of the Dales Way, in Stockeld Road, Ilkley on Monday, June 12 and arrive four days later, on the eve of William's wedding.

“The idea of walking to my wedding came to me as I drove pass Ingleborough on a visit to the Lakes - a time of tranquility perhaps before the frenzy and excitement of the wedding," said William. "My fiancee, Gemma, suggested that if I was to escape for a few days, then I should raise money for our company charity in the process and before long, Jerry and I were embarking on a walk with a difference."

William, together with Whitakers Chocolates employees, have previously supported the Beefy Foundation, which raises funds for charities including Bloodwise, formerly Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. Last year, Gemma Towell raised over £3, 500 on a solo bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and over the years, Whitakers as a company has raised more than £110,000 for Bloodwise.

In addition to Sir Ian and Lady Botham at the send off at the Old Bridge Nurseries, from 9am on June 12, will be some of the Rylstone WI's Calendar Girls' and the promise of several other Oompa Loompas.

In a message of support, Sir Ian said: “Thank you to William no sorry, Willy Wonka and Whitakers Chocolates for their continued support of the Beefy Foundation, we have certainly won the golden ticket. The Bothams will be out in force to send you on your way in June in the meantime don't have a meltdown."

William added: "We look forward to meeting as many people as possible on the walk and of course raising as much money as we can for Beefy’s Charity Foundation, which supports so many worthy causes."

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