Epic walk our ‘thank-you’ for vital help

David Johnstone, Matthew Branson and Dermot Thomas undertook a sponsored walk for a new �16,000 kitchen at St Peter's Church, Fleetwood.
David Johnstone, Matthew Branson and Dermot Thomas undertook a sponsored walk for a new �16,000 kitchen at St Peter's Church, Fleetwood.

Fleetwood soup kitchen manager Matthew Branson spent weeks down the gym training for an epic sponsored walk.

His aim was to contribute to the £16,000 needed for a new kitchen for St Peter’s Church, on Lord Street, where his Mustard Seed Group’s soup kitchen is based.

But Matthew’s mammoth challenge – walking along the coast from Fleetwood to Warton, had to be abandoned when his knee gave out, close to North Shore.

It was a bitter blow to Matthew, who had been determined to make good on his promise to finish the 
challenge. However, that wasn’t the end of the matter.

Two of Matthew’s pals, who help out at the soup kitchen 
after it helped to turn their own lives around, decided they would take the challenge on themselves a few days later.

And the pair – Dermot Thomas and David Johnston – succeeded, completing the punishing 19.6 mile-trek in seven and a half hours.

It was a particularly sweet success for the pair.

Dermot, originally from Swansea, South Wales, has overcome homelessness and severe 
depression, while Scots-born David, who grew up in Fleetwood, has battled a long-standing drink problem.

Both say they relished the chance to put something back into the service which has helped them.

Matthew, 45, said: “I want to publicly thanksthem and congratulate them for making it. It was a long way to walk in one go.

“I was so disappointed I couldn’t finish the walk. my knee had been giving me problems at the gym, but I just thought it was a twinge. On the walk, it just gave out and I couldn’t go on.

“These two lads have done brilliantly, it is very inspiring.”

David, 40, said: “Matthew and the soup kitchen have done so much for me, I just wanted to help the church and the Mustard Seed Group get their new kitchen.

“They really need it, the current facilities are not up to scratch. The walk wasn’t too bad, apart from some blisters on my feet.”

Dermot, who will be 46 at the weekend, added: “I’ve had a few health issues recently, so I’m glad I was fit enough.

“I felt fine during the walk. Matthew has helped me get back on my feet, so I just wanted to help.”

Between the three of them, their efforts raised £175.

Now the church is just £150 short of its target, thanks to other fund-raisers and generous donations.

The town’s parish church, on Lord Street, currently has a very basic kitchen facility located in the front section of the church, where social events are held.

There is only one small cooker and the kitchen is not really adequate when it plays host to larger events, such as the soup kitchen on Monday nights.

The new kitchen space is to be enlarged, with a new double oven and stainless steel work tops.

It is also hoped a modern dishwasher can be acquired as well.

Vicar of St Peter’s, Canon John Hall, hopes the new 
facilities can be installed in time for Christmas.

Mustard Seed meets up at the church on Monday nights, from 6.30 to 9.30pm.