Story added: 23rd September 2020
Supporter tackles Coastal Walk Challenge for Foundation
On Sunday, Raimo Ala-Korpi was one of nine walkers to complete the Coastal Walk Challenge. He talks about his experiences, and what inspired him to tackle the 47-mile distance for the Community Sports Foundation.
Raimo has lived in East Anglia for six years, relocating with his family from his native Finland to take up the role of Managing Director at Avant Tecno UK in 2014.
The Finnish firm have been a secondary partner of Norwich City Football Club since 2019, and supply one of their articulated compact loaders to the Lotus Training Centre as part of the partnership.
“We have a great relationship with Norwich City Football Club but we wanted to extend our relationship to the Community Sports Foundation, too,” says Raimo. “As a company, we don’t want to do half measures, so we wanted to support in as many ways as we can.”
Earlier this year, Avant donated a fully-electric loader to the Foundation, to be used to help maintain the 22-acres of grounds at The Nest, the charity’s new community hub in Horsford.
Raimo continues: “The Foundation do great work in the community. I’m a keen runner and a big advocate for mental and physical wellbeing, so their Run For Me programme is a cause close to my heart.
“When Ian and Jackie [Thornton, Chief Executive & Head of Development at CSF] told me about the charity’s Coastal Walk Challenge, I wanted to do my part personally. I think they might have been deliberately understating to me how tough it would be, though!”
At 8am on Sunday 20th September, Raimo set out from Hunstanton, ably supported by experienced Coastal Walk Challenge support walkers Matt Parkhouse and Simon Ludkin, with the trio planning to walk the full 47-miles to Cromer in just one day.
“It was beautiful, especially the part around Holkham. The Norfolk coast is one of the best kept secrets in the world; very underrated.”
Spurred on (and suitably refreshed) by a small support team from the Foundation at various points along the route, the team made fast progress.
“I thought, this is not too bad actually! We had covered 35 miles or so, and I felt physically very strong.”
However, it was one of the final legs, the 7-mile shingle bank stretch from Cley-Next-The-Sea to Sheringham, that Raimo found most testing.
“This part was incredibly tough, especially on my legs. There’s no easy way to walk on the shingles – believe me, I tried! My knees were in a lot of pain. I really had to dig deep, remember the cause, and distract myself. Matt and Simon’s support really helped get me through.”
Raimo found a burst of energy for the final few miles, and the trio hit the finish line at Cromer as night was descending; an impressive 15 hours in total. With the total still rising, Raimo has already hit his fundraising target of £2,000 (you can donate to his fundraising page here).
“The challenge has really highlighted to me the importance of perseverance, self-belief and team spirit. I couldn’t have done it without the support from Matt, Simon, Emma Fletcher, Maria Brett and the other volunteers.”
Emma Fletcher, CSF’s Senior Fundraising & Events Manager, reflected:
“A massive thank you to Raimo and all our walkers who completed the Challenge this year and helped raise invaluable funds for the charity.
“Obviously the Challenge was stripped down this year: we took limited numbers, and support was provided in a socially distance appropriate way. It makes the feats of those who completed it that bit more special.
“A big thank you to our seven support walkers and seven support team volunteers, who were incredible as always, and to Swash Nosh who provided all the food and refreshments, and the Holkham Estate.”