St John’s Innovation Centre based Augmentra recently supported electronics engineer and physics teacher Stuart Jessup on a long distance walk around England by supplying him their Viewranger iPhone navigation app, loaded with the OS maps that he needed. Stuart and his Springer Spaniel Poppy spent eight months in a campervan walking 2,600 miles around the edge of England to campaign against mental health stigma and raise over £12,000 for the mental health charities SANE and Anxiety UK.
Navigating using ViewRanger, Stuart’s eight month adventure started from Tower Bridge on 10 October 2012 and took him along the South Coast, round Devon and Cornwall then up the Welsh borders, around the Lake District, across the Scottish borders to Berwick upon Tweed and back down the east coast to London, finally reaching Tower Bridge again on Sunday 10th June 2012. Stuart commented that “without ViewRanger’s help the walk would have needed a couple of bookshelves worth of maps. Having all of the maps I needed on my iPhone with Viewranger’s excellent GPS navigation app meant that I could concentrate on the charitable purposes of the walk without having to worrying about getting lost or buying and carrying paper maps. I am very grateful to Augmentra for making this possible”
Stuart was also supported by Cambridge outdoor store Open Air, who supplied him with top grade kit for the walk, with assistance from RAB Outdoor Clothing.
Stuart and Poppy’s home for the duration of the walk was a campervan and they normally walked fifteen miles a day. Most of the time Stuart was walking on his own, except for his canine companion. This presented a considerable logistical challenge because at the end of each day’s walk he needed to get back to his bed in the campervan. He used buses and trains for this, which required a lot of planning, especially in Devon and Cornwall with buses on their winter schedules.
The charitable aim of the walk was to take part in the campaign that all of the major mental health charities are engaged in to make it easier to talk about mental health and to reduce some of the taboos around the subject. Stuart suffered unnecessarily for many years because, like so many men, he tried to keep his issues hidden and didn’t want to admit what was happening. It was only after a breakdown in his 30’s that his depression was diagnosed and recovery could begin. Now by talking openly about his experiences he is playing a part in helping make it easier for others to talk about their own mental health.
Stuart’s wife, Kate Atkin handled the publicity for the walk. Kate is the founder of the management training company Aspire-2, also based at St John’s Innovation Centre. She did a great job, securing interviews for Stuart on many BBC local radio stations, articles in local and national press plus a memorable walk with Claire Balding that was broadcast on Radio 4 as part of her ‘Ramblings’ series. (This broadcast can be found on the ‘Ramblings’ page of the BBC website.).
Details of the walk are available on the walk website www.walkingontheedge.org.uk, and the blog is at www.facebook.com/englandwalk. Stuart will be speaking about his experiences in a public talk at St. Andrew’s Hall in Chesterton at 7.30 on Thursday 18 October. The fittest Springer Spaniel in England will be there as well!