Charity's 'around the world in 80 days' walking challenge

Bali Bhalla (right) has organised the walking challenge

Bali Bhalla (right) has organised the walking challenge, which was launched with the help of Redbridge mayor Roy Emmett (centre) - Credit: Super Cool Friends

A charity is bidding to walk around the world in 80 days without leaving Redbridge while donating to good causes globally.

Bali Bhalla, a founder member of Super Cool Friends, came up with the idea for the challenge.

It will see up to 100 people aim to walk 8,500 steps a day for 80 days.

The group was started on its journey at Fairlop Waters by Redbridge mayor Roy Emmett on November 21.

Bali, 65, said he came up with the idea after starting a daily walking group to improve the health and mental wellbeing of members.

"People are excited and are doing more. If Phineas Fogg can do it, so can we.

"It has captured the imagination of youngsters and people are saying to me 'it is so good and I am really looking forward to the next time we meet'.

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They will 'visit' ten countries on their route and will donate £500 for each one.

Their first stop is Gambia and the money is going towards gardening equipment at a hospital.

Bali, who has lived in Goodmayes for 35 years, said: "I am hoping this inspires other groups to do this on their own steam."

The charity was formed earlier this year and has helped to feed homeless people, donated food and supplies for NHS hospitals, supported foodbanks and provided food for students in need.

Cllr Emmett said: "They have already done wonders to raise money for foodbanks here in Ilford, but I think this walking idea is absolutely brilliant and hopefully will capture the public’s attention too.

"We all know the change of lifestyle due to Covid has impacted on our mental and physical health, as well as socially and financially.

"But the benefits of walking together are universally acknowledged as good for improving our health, especially when we are talking about these sort of distances."

The walkers are taking part in groups of ten and are doing their steps individually, Bali said, but they will meet together once a week to do three laps of the lake at Fairlop Waters.

He added: "It is a beautiful place and gives everyone the chance to meet each other and it helps with mental health as well."

They aim to finish the challenge on February 12.

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