“NIGEL DOES THE NORTH COAST 500 – TWICE!“
Royal Navy Lodge 429
“Summer mornings,” says Nigel, “were a fantastic experience"
It was a wonderful and unexpected finale to the whole event.
You’ve got to be a bit out of the ordinary to take on a 500-mile walking challenge – and then double it. That is precisely what Nigel Mann, Charity Steward of the Royal Navy Lodge No.429 at Ramsgate, East Kent, decided he would do. But he wasn’t expecting the eventual outcome!
Nigel wanted to raise £1,000 towards the Province’s 2025 Festival. He was looking for something sufficiently challenging to capture the imagination and encourage people to sponsor him along the way.
Nigel and his family had planned to drive the North Coast 500, a five-hundred-mile road trip around the coast of Scotland. His phone had clearly ‘heard’ him talking about the trip: its social media algorithm started offering him adverts suggesting that he ‘walk’ the North Coast 500 as a virtual exercise. For those who are not aware, a virtual walk doesn’t mean going to the venue: you simply check off the miles wherever you happen to be walking and an online map charts your progress as if you were following the Route.
Somehow 500 miles didn’t feel a suitably challenging distance to Nigel – so he doubled it, took some poetic licence from a certain well-known Scottish pop duo, and the Proclaimers’ Challenge was created:
“But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more”.
From mid-June to October 2023, Nigel was out of bed at 5.15am each day and off on a two-and-a-half-hour walk. From Broadstairs he would go to Joss Bay and would then vary his route – sometimes off to Ramsgate, sometimes to Margate – always resisting the temptation to catch a bus back when he realised that he might have gone too far!
“Summer mornings,” says Nigel, “were a fantastic experience. For anyone who walks, runs, cycles or even just walks the dog, there is a wonderful sense of community. It is that time of day when everyone smiles and says, ‘good morning’. You begin to recognise familiar faces and, having greeted them on the way out, you offer a knowing nod on the return. I have seen speed walkers, cyclists (both electric and pedal-power), sea swimmers, personal trainers with their clients, and young children running with a parent – the child often forcing the pace – all fulfilling their own personal challenges. It was great to be part of that.”
Thanks to generous sponsorship from friends and fellow Masons, Nigel raised some £2,000, double his original target. He has donated the full amount to East Kent’s Festival.
Pro Grand Master Jonathan Spence, himself an East Kent Freemason, got to hear of Nigel’s exploits, and invited him and Lodge Master Peter Rodd, a former Assistant Provincial Grand Master, to visit him at Freemasons’ Hall in London, where they were joined by another venerable East Kent Freemason, former Provincial Grand Master and ex-President of the Board of General Purposes Geoffrey Gordon Dearing.
Said Nigel, “It was a wonderful and unexpected finale to the whole event. My sincere gratitude to our Pro Grand Master for finding a window in his busy schedule to meet me and to spend a generous amount of his time chatting about my walk and Freemasonry in general. What a privilege!”
Some final remarks from Nigel:
“For any Lodge or individual who is conscious of raising funds for good causes, just get out there and do something. Your sponsors needn’t be exclusively Masonic: you have an opportunity to raise money from outside our institution and can even pique interest in membership. On top of this is the personal feeling of accomplishment and the realisation that you can do something different, next year and the year after and the year after that!
“My thanks to the Royal Navy Lodge for supporting me, to our Worshipful Master Peter Rodd for pushing me, to Union Lodge No.127 for helping me with a generous gift of £200, and to everyone else who has donated so kindly to the Proclaimers Challenge.”