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South coast walk raises £24,000 for leprosy work thanks to one woman and her dog

More than 2,500 people affected by leprosy will have their lives transformed thanks to Natalie Husk and her dog Toby ...

Natalie Husk, accompanied every step of the way by her Dalmatian dog Toby, spent two months walking the entire South Coast Path from Minehead to Poole to transform the lives of 1,000 people affected by the disease of leprosy in India.

With an initial fundraising target of £10,000, Natalie was overwhelmed that the final total raised came to over £24,000. As a result of her endeavours, more than 2,500 people will be able to walk again with the help of protective sandals and prosthetic legs.
 
Natalie, who is The Leprosy Mission England and Wales’s Area Co-ordinator for the South West, was inspired to take action after a trip to see some of the charity’s projects in India in 2010. She said: "Leprosy in India is surrounded by so much stigma and prejudice that people affected are isolated and treated as outcasts by their families and communities."
 
While completing the walk in May and June 2011, Natalie attracted plenty of support from local residents, dignitaries, well wishers and media, including a mention on BBC Radio 2. Her book, Blisters and Blessings, has been compiled from the diary she kept while completing her walk. It’s a mixture of reflections on the challenges she faced, inspiration from people she met along the way, and thoughts about the walk as a spiritual journey.
 
Natalie felt blessed by the generosity of more than 500 people who hosted her, walked with her, shared food and drink and encouraged her. Toby also inspired a whole fan club of supporters for his doggy determination. She hopes that Blisters and Blessings will serve as an inspiration to others to seek God in life’s journeys.
 
On 24 March Natalie and Toby will be returning to Minehead to celebrate the launch of Blisters and Blessings. TLMEW Supporters will join her for a nine-mile Walk of Hope along the coast path, followed by tea at Millbridge Evangelical Church, where Natalie will also be reading from her book and providing the opportunity to buy copies.
 
The walk will set off from the sculpture at the start of the path in Minehead at 10:30am, finishing up at the church at 4pm, with tea to follow from 4:30pm onwards. All are welcome to attend.

  • Blisters and Blessings is available from TLM Trading, priced at £6, ISBN number 978-0-902731-97-4. Call (UK) 0845 1662253 or visit www.tlmtrading.com for further details.

 Photo: © Northcliffe Media

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