Norfolk friends blaze a trail across South Downs in pouring rain

Four local women found the going extremely tough when walking for more than 30 hours to reach their 100km target in the Oxfam Trailwalker UK, in the pouring rain.

Walking on the chalk hills of the South Downs in south-east England – from Petersfield in Hampshire to Brighton in Sussex – the ladies have raised more than �3,000 with their efforts.

Helen Metcalfe from Thorpe Marriott, Aly Clarke from Drayton and Heather Edwards from Eaton were joined by Alison Hillman, from Manningtree, on the Essex-Suffolk border, to form the Forever Friends team, one of 520 taking part.

The quartet had originally aimed to raise �2,000 through the challenge but had to change that to �3,000 after early success and now their total stands at more than �3,530.

The Queen's Gurkha Signals Regiment started the event in Hong Kong as a training exercise to test soldiers' stamina and teamwork skills.

In 2002 Trailwalker UK was opened up to the public via a partnership with Oxfam and has since grown into a fundraising event for Oxfam and the Gurkha Welfare Trust.

The money raised is intended to go towards 80 Gurkha villages in south Asia to improve infrastructure and sanitation facilities.

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The tough conditions meant that only Helen and Alison made it to the finish line in 33 hours, one minute, although Aly and Heather both managed to complete two-thirds of the course.

Helen described their adventure, saying: 'Our team set off at 6am in the pouring rain. The mood was buoyant although the weather was terrible – we were told afterwards it was the worst for 20 years!

'The weather also made it difficult to walk as the ground was very slippy and often it was like walking through a river.

'We battled on, although spirits often dipped, the encouragement from all the Gurkhas we met did inspire us.

'By checkpoint six we were nearly four hours behind our proposed time and we needed to reach checkpoint seven before 5am on Sunday, otherwise we would have been disqualified.

'Thankfully we got there by 4.14am but our next problem was getting to checkpoint nine by 11am.

'Another member of our team who was suffering from sickness pulled out just after this checkpoint, having walked 70km and as a two we were unable to carry on, but thankfully we were able to join another team.

'It was a race against time and having walked over two-thirds and for over 24 hours it was really tough going.'

- Find out more at or www.virginmoneygiving com/team/ 4everfriends

- Are you preparing for a challenging charity event? Contact Local Life editor David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email