How one tweet helped a veteran raise over £30k in an afternoon

Jeffery Long decided to celebrate turning 86 by walking 86 miles and raising £1,000 for The Royal British Legion, only to smash his target in an afternoon thanks to a tweet.

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Most people might celebrate their birthday with cake and friends, but Jeffery Long decided to do something a little different. A former soldier, Jeffery decided to raise money for The Royal British Legion by walking 86 miles for his 86th birthday.

It’s not the first long distance walk that Jeffrey has taken on to mark his birthday. For his 84th birthday he walked 84 miles along Hadrians’ Wall, and for his 85th he walked 85 miles along the Leeds and Liverpool canal. Jeffrey has also received the MBE for his charity work.

Jeffrey Long with Diana Moran who is widely known as the ‘Green Goddess’. Photo credit: Mary Lodge

Jeffrey’s success in fundraising for The Royal British Legion all started with Lawrence Butler-Perks, who’s the National Branches District Secretary. Lawrence set up Jeffrey’s Just Giving page, without which he wouldn’t have been fundraise as effectively.

“I’m very grateful to Lawrence,” says Jeffrey, “as without him I wouldn’t have been fundraising for the Legion so it’s all down to him.”

Navigating without maps, Jeffrey completed his walk along the Thames yesterday. But as he only checks his fundraising target at the end of the day, he had no idea that he beat his target by over 7,000%.

After meeting Paula Modeste on a train, she posted Jeffrey’s story to Facebook where it was then picked up by comedian Jason Manford.

This isn’t the only help that Jeffrey has received on his walk. As he came through Maidenhead on Sunday, Jeffrey came across a man wearing a giant pink wig and oversized glasses.

Jeffrey Long meets Patrick Riley on his 86 mile walk.

Jeffrey Long meets Patrick Riley on the tow path during his 86 mile walk. Credit: Anne Jones.

This was Patrick Riley, who was celebrating an early Christmas with his partner Anne Jones and family as they wouldn’t see each other on the date. The wig and glasses were part of a Christmas tradition. Patrick and Jeffrey got talking and Patrick insisted that Jeffrey come back for some tea and Christmas cake.

Jeffrey Long having tea and christmas cake on his 86 mile walk.

Jeffrey Long enjoying tea and Christmas cake on his 86 mile walk. Credit: Anne Jones.

“Jeffrey told us that he was heading back to Weybridge each night, and then coming back to the place that he’d finished the night before,” says Anne. “So when we heard that Jeffrey was doing this walk with no back up or support, we insisted that he stay the night with us.”

Patrick and Anne put Jeffrey up for two nights, picking up from where he’d finished each day before dropping him back the morning after.

The toughest walk

Jeffrey has been keeping the St. James’s Branch updated with his journey. He turned 86 on the 22nd October, during his walk, and shown determination along the way.

“No problem with legs as those who’ve walked with me know I can just keep going all day, but discovered my feet are so tender now so 2/3rds of the way I had painful feet!   I suffered!”

Jeffrey Long talks with the BBC about his fundraising walk.

Jeffrey talks to the BBC about his 86 mile walk and fundraising success. Credit: BBC

This walk is not the longest that Jeffrey has done, but it has been the toughest.

“I broke my ankle a few years ago, and that’s been playing up along with my hamstring,” says Jeffrey. “Plus I’m currently on chemo treatment as my doctor found that I’m producing too many platelets, so I’m in danger of getting a blood clot. The chemo does make you tired, not as good as you were.”

Smashing targets

Jason originally planned to get Jeffrey to £30k before the end of the day, but with Jason and Paula’s help he raised over £60,000 in just one day.

Jeffrey heard about the surge in fundraising from a friend in Bradford who rang him in the afternoon. When he heard the news, it came as a complete shock.

“It’s quite emotional,” says Jeffrey, “I don’t really know what to think about it.

“I’d like to give a big thank you to Paula Modeste, Jason Manford, and Lawrence. What can I say, words are inadequate here. The big thing is to get together and have a celebration.

“I’d also like to thank Mary Lodge, who I’m staying with in Weybridge, and all the people who’ve helped make this happen.”