Introducing my new walking buddy (and why I’m raising money for UNICEF)


Only one more day until departure and I’ve managed to acquire an emergency walking buddy. Meet the UNICEF Teddy. He (She?) doesn’t have a name yet – I’m open to suggestions.


I’m taking one less pair of socks to accommodate the teddy.

I’m already going to be carrying 16 kg of camping gear, food and water with me. The weight of the teddy is negligible in comparison. It probably won’t help much with putting up the tent or cooking the dinner, and conversation may be a little one-sided, but it’s better than nowt. I suppose if I get too stuck somewhere and need a fire I could always use him as kindling.

Obviously I wouldn’t be taking the UNICEF Teddy with me if I wasn’t raising awareness (and money!) for UNICEF. But why have I chosen this cause?

UNICEF work to protect and promote the rights of all children in more than 190 countries worldwide. This makes their global reach far beyond that of any other children’s charity.

UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary contributions. They receive no funding from the UN budget. By being reliant on donations they have to be efficient with how they spend their money – 76p in every pound raised goes directly to their work with children. Of the rest, 22p goes towards further fundraising efforts and 2p towards administration.

Yesterday I was asked what the minimum sponsorship amount was. There really is no minimum, as cliché as it sounds, every little helps. You can maximise what you give by checking the Gift Aid option on the donation page. A couple of beers (or one in some places in Cambridge!) can come to a fiver, you could get a takeaway meal for a tenner. That same money can be used to give tangible, life changing help to a child – Just £3 can make sure that a child gets the vitamins and nutrients they need once they start solid food; £4 can provide a quality football for children to play, exercise, and have fun (because children everywhere should be able to have the sort of childhood I took for granted); £11.50 could provide Polio vaccines to protect 100 children; £21 can provide 5,000 water purification tablets for use when families cannot access fresh, clean water. £23.50 can provide all of the midwifery equipment necessary for the safe delivery of one baby… I really can’t tell you exactly where your money will go to – I trust UNICEF to use it as well as possible and to use it where it’s most needed right now, so please consider having one less beer this week and supporting myself and UNICEF – even if it is just a couple of quid, it’s going to a good cause.

As for the teddy – I’m currently taking name suggestions from Facebook or Twitter (or the comments section below if you have an idea for a name), I had considered calling it Albert, but there have already been better suggestions than that. I’ll try and take an online suggestion, but I may leave the naming of the teddy until I’m on the trail.