Emotional scenes as Alex reaches the end of his epic three year RNLI fundraiser
After walking 9,500 miles around the coasts of the UK and Ireland, Alex Ellis-Roswell arrived back at Minnis Bay in Kent this weekend - the very spot where he began his fundraising odyssey over three years ago.
Twenty-four-year-old Alex has raised an incredible £67,000 for the RNLI - and the donations are still coming in.
His mum Jackie, friends, family, RNLI crew and supporters, along with representatives from the local council, were there to greet him and to celebrate his amazing achievement, while members of the Whitstable Sea Cadets Corps of Drums accompanied him along the last few miles.
The final leg of Alex's journey was also shared live on his Facebook page, so his 11,300 followers from all round the country could witness his emotional homecoming.
At a reception held after the finish, Alex was presented with awards from the RNLI by Margate father and son crew members Nick and Oliver Titcombe, to mark the charity's gratitude for his efforts.
Speaking after crossing the finish line, Alex said: 'It was an overwhelming experience today - to see all the crowds - it was so surreal, as I wasn’t sure anyone was going to turn up'!
'I suppose it hasn’t dawned on me yet, the fact that I’ve finished. I think it will take a few days to sink in really, what I’ve achieved'.
'One of the nicest parts of today was seeing my mum again and seeing some mates that I haven’t seen for years. I honestly don’t know how I got through the day without crying.'
'I’d like to say a big thank you to all the volunteer crew members that came out today, seeing them all on the promenade as I arrived was just amazing.'
Alex was also welcomed home at the finish by two people who have some idea of what it's like to dedicate your life to visiting all the charity's lifeboat stations. Ten-year-old Harry Mascall, who has currently visited 159 and Jack Lowe, who has photographed 100, were there at Minnis Bay to give him support.
Three years ago, Alex Ellis-Roswell set out from Kent to walk 9500 miles round the British and Irish coastlines to pay tribute to his late father and raise money for the RNLI.
He left his job, gave notice on his flat and walked out with only what he carried on his back. Since then, he's slept in a tent he carries with him - or relied on the kindness of strangers. He's often been put up by lifeboat crew or supporters who have met him along the way.
He’s since been chased by bulls, walked through hurricane force winds, met Princess Anne and visited over 200 lifeboat stations.
His route has taken him clockwise around Britain and Ireland, including the Isle of Man, the Western and Northern Isles. His initial fundraising target was £10,000 - but he’s gone a long way past that.
It was after the passing of his father at Christmas in 2013, that Alex set off on the journey of a lifetime. Before ill health, his father had spent much of his life dedicated to charity work and fundraising, which spurred Alex on.
‘My dad’s ultimate stubbornness against what seemed to be a never ending cycle of illness, pain, operations and setbacks will always be a very personal inspiration to me’, said Alex, who has at times suffered with knee pain during his walk.
‘I started off thinking about £10,000 then £20,000 then £50,000. I suppose reaching this target shows how well supported the RNLI is by the people, places and communities I’ve walked through, especially when for many people money is tight.’
Alex’s target is now £95,000 which represents £10 for every mile he’s walked - and there is still time to donate.
Alex remains diplomatic and refuses to name a favourite station. But the crew at Falmouth helped him through a particularly rough patch: ‘The loneliness gets you down sometimes. When I first entered Cornwall, I was in a really low place. There’s a train station in Falmouth, so I decided that I was going to get to Falmouth and quit'.
'I walked for 3 or 4 days, pretty much non-stop and at times overnight, to get to Falmouth, because that’s where I was going to quit. And then I got to Falmouth, and the crew there were awesome. They were nice people, and they made me a cup of tea after four days’ walking and it put me back on a high. So it really is the crew that keep me going.’
He added: ‘RNLI lifeboat crew volunteers save an average of 23 lives at sea every single day. In my opinion, they’re heroes.
‘They put themselves right in the thick of what is Britain’s most unforgiving environment – our sea. They receive no government funding for their work and the majority of lifeboat crew are volunteers.’
You can find out more about Alex’s journey around the UK by visiting his Facebook page www.facebook.com/alexellisroswell, following him on Twitter @ELLISROSWELL or donate by visiting www.bt.com/DonateToLifeboats
Notes to Editors
Alex is available for interview and pictures. Contact the RNLI press office on 01202 336789/ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.