A KEMPSHOTT man battled the odds to trek for nearly 200 miles to raise thousands for a children’s orphanage charity.

Mark Thomas, who co-founded the CHILD’s Trust with his wife Julie in 1999, walked ‘The 186 Route’ - the arduous 186-mile Pembrokeshire Costal Path in West Wales - in a bid to raise £10,000 for his charity.

After 12 days of trekking from May 19 until June 2, Mark returned home having smashed his target, raising more than £13,000.

The CHILD’s Trust is an important charity, with its roots securely in India and Bangladesh.

The organisation has pioneered the House of Hope model - which sees properties built to become orphans’ homes. Around eight orphans will move into the house, where they will have new parents who will look after them all - caring, loving and educating them until they reach the age of 21. Each child in a House of Hope has a UK-based sponsor that contributes towards an income for each House of Hope.

“Some of these children come from horrendous backgrounds,”

Mark, who has lived in the borough for more than 30-years, told The Gazette.

“One child for example. Her mother was blown up by a faulty gas canister in her home and when her father came back and he couldn’t cope so he killed himself.

“She was left wandering around so we helped. It’s distressing but the money raised by this walk will help changes those lives.”

The money will be used to try and build a new House of Hope in India. The charity currently has two based in Bangladesh and one in India.

When the children are old enough to move out, the parents inherit the house and become ‘honorary grandparents’ when the children they have nurtured have families of their own.

Mark, a former worker at the AA, said: “It keeps the continuity for the families, which is really important to the children.”

He added: “The walk was tiring and I am overwhelmed with the support people have given me. The weather was amazing - which is quite a surprise for that area, I mean I got more wet getting to London last week than I did across the whole walk, but the response has been really heart-warming.”

Visit 186.org.uk.