BBC News

Newbury woman, 104, walking marathon for charity

image copyrightTVAA
image captionRuth Saunders previously raised money for the air ambulance with coffee mornings

A 104-year-old woman is walking the length of a marathon to raise money for charity.

Ruth Saunders, from Newbury, has taken some inspiration from centenarian Capt Sir Tom Moore, who completed 100 laps of his garden in aid of the NHS.

She began her challenge on 8 September, walking around the block near her home each day, and is expecting to complete the distance in November.

The money raised is going to Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA).

Ms Saunders said: "I usually do something for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance every year, and this year I can't have a coffee morning or anything like that.

"I said to my son 'oh I'm fed up, all through the lockdown I have never been outside my gate... I'm going for a little walk around the block'.

"So I did and while I was going round I thought what am I doing this for? I know. Thames Valley Air Ambulance. So that's how I started raising money for them."

image copyrightMark Lord Photography
image captionThames Valley Air Ambulance treated 2,670 patients in the region last year

Ms Saunders, who has raised more than £2,000 so far, says she has kept up with exercise "for a long, long time".

When asked her secret to keeping fit, she said: "You want to learn to touch your toes, and then your back will keep well."

Originally Ms Saunders planned to do 104 walks, matching her age, but the distance covered would have been slightly less than the marathon distance of 42.2 km (26.2 miles).

Granddaughter Kate Saunders said she was "amazing, so active, and puts a lot of people to shame".

"It would be a brave person to tell her to slow down a bit," she added.

Amanda McLean, chief executive of TVAA, said: "Ruth is an inspiration to us all... we are so lucky to have such a passionate and awe-inspiring supporter."

More on this story

  • Coronavirus: Thames Valley Air Ambulance predicts £1m shortfall