TWO nine-year-old schoolboys from West Sussex are preparing to take on a 24-hour survival challenge during their summer break to raise money for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
While other children their age may be spending their six-week holiday playing video games or kicking a ball around in the park, Oakley Connor and Sammy Langley, who live in Burgess Hill, have challenged themselves to walk for six miles along a coastal path in Suffolk carrying everything they will need to survive for 24 hours.
During their expedition the boys, who have been best friends since they started primary school together, will be wild camping on the beach, scavenging for firewood and cooking their own food in true survival style.
The boys won’t be entirely on their own, the expedition will be led by Oakley’s nana who is a seasoned hiker and a girl guide leader.
Oakley’s mum, Emma Connor, said:
“Myself and Oakley’s dad and Sammy’s parents are so proud of the boys. This isn’t their first fundraiser; they previously raised £1,500 for Burgess Hill food bank in 2021 by playing the drums for 12 hours straight with a group of friends and then last year they raised £1,000 for the charity Choose Love by living in a car boot for a day.
“We support them, but they come up with the ideas themselves and they choose their own charities which they are passionate about.”
“We are really into Army stuff and enjoy visiting Army museums. We want to raise money to thank veterans for their service and it makes us feel very proud that we can help them out.”
The boys are taking the expedition seriously and have been training for their adventure.
“The weather won’t stop us; we will carry out our challenge whether it is sunny or raining. We’ve been training in sun, rain and wind; we’ve walked the Ditchling Beacon and the South Downs. The only weather we haven’t practised in is snow.”
When asked what they felt would be the most challenging part of the expedition, Sammy said:
“It’s going to be difficult to build a shelter on the beach that won’t collapse, and our bags are going to be heavy to carry.
“We’ve already been thinking about what we will carry with us for food. I think we’ll need something that will give us energy, like sandwiches.”
Later in the year, the pair are hoping to follow up on their challenge by meeting some of the charity’s blind veterans at their new Centre of Wellbeing at Rustington in West Sussex.
“We would like to deliver some homemade cakes; our speciality is rocky road with popcorn and we can tell them all about our exciting adventure.”
This is unlikely to be the last fundraising challenge this pair face.
“We want to do a charity fundraiser each year to help people and also we may eventually get knighted by the King!”
Sammy and Oakley are hoping to raise £500 for Blind Veterans UK. If you would like to support them in reaching their fundraising target please visit their Just Giving page: justgiving.com/page/
If you would like to find out more about taking on a challenge for Blind Veterans UK visit the charity’s website: blindveterans.org.uk/fundraise.
Blind Veterans UK supports thousands of blind veterans across the country but knows there are many thousands more who still need its support to rebuild their lives after sight loss.
If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and are now struggling with sight loss, then please get in touch. Call 0800 389 7979 or visit blindveterans.org.uk/support.