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Northern Ireland dad Chris Brannigan finishes 700-mile barefoot charity trek


Army Major Chris Brannigan and daughter Hasti

Army Major Chris Brannigan and daughter Hasti




Army Major Chris Brannigan and daughter Hasti

A Co Down soldier will be reunited with his young daughter in Scotland today after a gruelling 700-mile barefoot walk.

Army Major Chris Brannigan (40) is raising money to fund research into a rare genetic condition that his eight-year-old girl Hasti lives with.

Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS) is a potentially life-limiting condition which can get dramatically worse from puberty.

Children often suffer from seizures, severe anxiety and self-harm, meaning they can require around the clock care.

The epic journey from Land's End in Cornwall to Edinburgh Castle is due to finish this afternoon, where Chris will be greeted by his wife Hengameh and three children.

Speaking five miles away from the Scottish border yesterday, he told the Belfast Telegraph that despite suffering multiple open wounds to his feet, he would stop at nothing to cross the finish line.

"I've done 670 miles so far, with 26 more tomorrow," he said.

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"The journey's been the hardest thing I've ever done. Walking barefoot on our roads over 20 miles a day and carrying 25kg of kit has been like walking on glass," he said.

"Fundraising's really difficult, we've been doing it since January to try and raise the money for CdLS, and we needed to capture peoples' imagination.





"Hasti's condition leaves her exposed to the world because of the difficulties it gives her, so it only feels fair that I do that myself."

Chris was forced to go to A&E halfway through the challenge, suffering open wounds and infections on both feet.

"They told me I had to stop now or I would permanently damage my feet."

He added: "I think what's struck me during the whole thing is that I could stop at any time, but Hasti can't stop being sick."

He said the disruption of Covid-19 has caused the UK Government to neglect children with rare diseases.

"They don't do enough to provide coordinated care, appropriate training for GPs and specialists... there's an inequality of care that I want to see addressed so children like Hasti can go on to live long lives and have the same opportunities as every other child in the UK."

He said the public support has been "phenomenal" in every town, with words of encouragement and food at the toughest moments.

A staggering total of over £297,000 has been raised so far, while a petition delivered to Downing Street during the walk gathered more than 11,000 signatures in just two days.

The family aim to raise £400,000 initially, with a final goal of £2.5m to provide treatment for Hasti and others with life-limiting conditions.

To contribute to the fundraising appeal, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/BarefootAcrossBritain

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