The march by Veterans from across the Haig Housing community has been called poignantly ‘The Long Walk Home’ and the journey will finish on Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph, in London.
Haig Housing was one of the organisers of the renowned ‘Poppies at The Tower’ installation that raised millions of Pounds for Veterans’ charities and is the country’s leading centre for military housing. ‘The Long Walk Home’ has been planned as a mark of respect to those who died in the Great War and is intended to raise additional funds for the charity. It is also an important milestone for the organisation, as it was launched in memory of Earl Haig soon after the Great War.
Each of the walkers will be transported to Ypres in Belgium, the scene of three major battles and Headquarters of the British salient in the First World War, from where they will begin their arduous journey home. Over the next four days, they will walk over a hundred miles from Ypres to the Belgian coast, before ferrying to Dover and continuing their trek to London.
The journey will pass through Dover to Canterbury and Faversham, continuing on the second day from Rochester and Rainham and on the third day the walkers will reside in Dartford and Sidcup. On the Saturday night, before Remembrance Sunday, the walkers will remain in a hotel before marching to the Cenotaph the following morning. Along the route from Dover to central London, the people of Kent will be asked to host the brave Veteran walkers overnight, in a show of the ‘Dunkirk spirit’. It is hoped that the walkers will be joined along the route in November by the public, politicians and celebrities to raise awareness and raise funds for the charity.
Chief Executive of Haig Housing, Brigadier James Richardson MBE, stated: “Haig Housing Trust commenced its life by meeting the needs of Veterans returning from the Great War. Prime Minister Lloyd George campaigned to build homes fit for heroes and ever since Haig has striven to do just that. ‘The Long Walk Home’ recognises the great sacrifice given by so many in that war and its pilgrimage to walk the route from Flanders to the Cenotaph, to take part in the National Act of Remembrance, by today’s Veterans, will be a most touching commemoration. We hope that the public and, in particular, the people of Kent will give their support and encouragement to this tremendous event.”
Chairman of Cobseo, The Confederation of Service Charities, General Sir John McColl KCB CBE DSO, highlighted: “2018 marks the centenary of the end of the Great War, the aftermath of which saw the creation of so many of the well-known organisations that still support the Veterans community and their families today. This centenary of the first Armistice will therefore attract much attention, as the nation stops to remember, not just the sacrifices of the Great War, but also those who have given so much in all subsequent conflicts.
“Haig Housing Trust’s ‘The Long Walk Home’ is a perfect way to commemorate this anniversary and raise awareness of Veterans’ housing issues. A poignant pilgrimage, it joins the memory of events in the British Salient around Ypres during WW1, with Whitehall and the Cenotaph being where our National Remembrance is centred. The walking Veterans will meet the challenge and will be supported and encouraged hopefully along their route, raising awareness of Veterans’ housing issues. I wish them and the Trust every success.”