By LUKE VOOGT
TWO old Diggers – one of them Ocean Grove’s Brigadier (ret.) Phil Edwards – will walk across the UK in May to raise $40,000 for Soldier On.
So far Phil, and good mate Brigadier Dave McGahey, have raised $16,000 for the organisation, which provides vital mental health support to veterans.
“They are doing a great job helping veterans – particularly younger ones,” Phil said.
Phil and Dave will complete the 309km trek across the UK in 18 days (including two rest days) starting on 22 May.
The long-time friends will trek 14km to 24km per day from St Bees on the west coast to Robin Hood Bay in the east.
Phil – who’s walked Hadrian’s Wall – looks forward to the scenery on the way.
“Although I’ll probably look forward to seeing the east coast most once we’ve started,” he said.
“Of course I wouldn’t be surprised if we need a beer or two every now and then to keep hydrated.”
As an army veteran, Phil is no stranger to packmarching, and some habits – like getting up early – die hard.
He’s been walking 14km to 22km around Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads, starting 6.30am each Saturday, for the last few months.
“People might see me if they’re up early enough,” he said.
Phil, 60, enjoys the peace and quiet of long walks.
“It gives me time to wander and ponder,” he said.
His most challenging walk was to the top of Timor Leste’s tallest mountain, Tatamailau (2986m), while on deployment in 2002.
“We wanted to get a view of the coast,” he said.
“But we got up there and it was misty – we couldn’t see bugger all.”
Phil and Dave joined the Army in 1972 as Army Apprentices and built a life-long friendship. They plan to do some walks in Blackwood later this month.
Phil retired from the Army in 2007 and moved to Ocean Grove, while Dave still serves as a brigadier in Melbourne.
To donate to Phil and Dave’s cause visit soldieron.giveeasy.org/campaigns/walking-across-the-uk/