Walking 9,500 miles round the coast of Britain and Ireland for the RNLI
Three years ago, Alex Ellis-Roswell set out from his home town of Margate in 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’s been chased by bulls and met Princess Anne. He’s slept in church doorways, sheep sheds and bird hides, visited over 200 lifeboat stations – and raised more than £56,000 for the lifesaving charity so far.
He’s now has less than 500 miles to go before he gets back home to Kent. This last stretch will see him walking inland along the Thames to visit the four stations that lie along the famous river: Gravesend, Teddington, Chiswick and Tower.
Alex, who is due to finish back home in Kent in the first weeks of November, said: 'I'm excited to be so close to finishing and raising a great sum for the RNLI and its volunteers.'
The 24-year-old first started his journey on 3 August 2014 with an aim to raise as much money as possible for the charity.
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.
His route has taken took 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, Sir Raymond Ellis, 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.
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.’
If you see Alex on your travels, with his yellow jacket, bulging backpack and RNLI collection bucket, please give him your support, encouragement and even a donation.
Notes to Editors
Alex is available for interview and pictures. Contact the RNLI press office on 01202 336789/ email@example.com.
Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
Learn more about the RNLI
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.
The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland