A WOMAN from Burton-in-Lonsdale spent three weeks walking 220 miles, raising a very impressive more than £3,500 to help refugees.

Maggie Bruno, a volunteer at the Bradford Red Cross Refugee Centre, decided to do what she could to help refugees while the centre itself was forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic.

She signed up for the British Red Cross Miles for Refugee Challenge in September, walking 108 miles, the distance from Calais to London, and then signed up to complete 160 miles, the distance from Tunis to Sicily, completing all her miles in three weeks.

She carried out her walking mainly in the area of the Yorkshire Three Peaks - including the peaks themselves, and also in and around Chapel-le-dale, Leck Fell, a section of the Pennine Way, and Stocks Reservoir.

“Although the Red Cross refugee support centre in which I volunteer has been forced to shut due to the pandemic, the needs of asylum seekers and refugees have not gone away,” she said.

“In fact, refugees and asylum seekers need our help more than ever, in the face of the recent negative government and media publicity around people crossing the channel in dinghies, and talk of sending in the Navy.

“So I took the crazy decision to take part in the Miles for Refugee Challenge this year. My first challenge was to walk 108 miles during September, the distance from Calais to London. With great backing and fine weather, I managed to complete this in under two weeks, then signed up for the next distance of 160 miles, the distance from Tunis to Sicily, which I completed by week three.”

One of her walks took her to the summit of Ingleborough, along the temporary diversion in place while the usual, three peaks walkers path to the top is being repaired, and on a day when visibility was very poor.

“The temporary path was a spongy boggy quagmire a lot of the way, incredibly steep and worn away as it went straight up the fell. There were a few others climbing it as well as me, and we developed a sort of camaraderie as we encouraged each other to keep going and get to the top.”

Maggie said unlike refugees, she was able to return every night to a secure home. “For a refugee the goal posts constantly change: you are moved on repeatedly by countries, authorities and hostile systems. You have to keep walking, there is no stability. So I continued to walk in spirit alongside those who make even longer and more dangerous journeys.”

She thanked all those who supported her - people of Bentham and Burton and the Bentham Refugee Support Group.