Friday, May 26, 2017 - 15:45

•    Two Eden Project walkers on epic UK trek to bring communities together 
•    Three-week Great Big Walk starts in Batley, home of the late MP Jo Cox
•    Comedian Jo Brand to kick start the event next Monday, May 29

Two women from the Eden Project are due to set off on Monday on an epic trek back home from Yorkshire as part of the just-announced The Great Big Walk.

Keen walkers Jane Knight and Judy Thorn make up one of five teams spanning the UK, connecting people and celebrating community during the three-week journey.

The Great Big Walk aims to highlight the rich diversity of communities which make up the backbone of the UK, while demonstrating the commonality we all share. 

Setting off from Batley, West Yorkshire, where Jo Cox was MP, the walkers will head home in time to join The Big Lunch as the highlight of The Great Get Together celebrations on the weekend of June 16-18, inspired by the MP and marking the first anniversary of her death.

The teams will travel home to five corners of the UK, finishing simultaneously on Sunday 18 June in Cornwall, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and London. Every day, the walkers and their supporters will visit different community projects and initiatives and will spend time with the extraordinary people who go the extra mile to bring communities together.

The Great Big Walk, an idea from the Eden Project made possible with funding from the National Lottery and other supporters, was announced on Thursday with the support of Jo Brand, who will join walkers at the start in Batley for a spectacular community send off.

Judy Thorn, who is visitor experience manager at Eden, and landscape architect Jane Knight will be walking about 10 miles a day for three weeks.  They will be on foot for most of the distance between Batley and Eden’s site near St Austell in Cornwall.

Jane and Judy were inspired to take part after hearing Jo Cox’s widower Brendan speak at a staff gathering earlier this year.

Jane said: “I’ve been working with communities and our Big Lunch team since the start. It’s always inspiring to hear about the great work that’s going on around the country, and this is a project which can help to counter-balance what we see and read about in the media. It will be a privilege to meet people involved in these projects, as well as to represent the Eden Project ‘on the road.’

“I’m an eternal optimist and I’m hoping that we will be able to shine a light on the thousands of people who do great things in their communities, but are often unsung.”

Judy said: “Aside from experiencing the inevitable sore legs and feet, I know that I am going to be constantly moved and inspired by the stories I learn and the support we will see and feel along the way.

“I am a pretty determined lady and the walk does nothing but excite me, so once the physical and mental challenges kick in I’ll be up for it even more. I’m sure that the connections made between me and my walking companions, as well us between us and the nation, will allow us to unleash new possibilities and make change.”

Peter Stewart, Eden Project Executive Director, said: “The Great Big Walk is an incredible project that will shine a light on the ordinary people all over the UK doing extraordinary things for their community. Whether coming together in celebration or in solidarity, in times like these the importance of community unity is greater than ever before. This project will share the positive impact that people coming together can have.”

Jo Brand said: “I know these guys are going to have an incredible time on The Great Big Walk and I urge anyone who sees them to beep, honk, wave and clap to show you care. From all the way up in sunny Scotland right down to the coast of Cornwall, let’s see which town can give them the friendliest welcome (and the odd biscuit!). And if like me, your dog ate your trainers and your Lycra shorts are in the wash, then you can always plan a Big Lunch, invite your neighbours and just eat cake!”

Peter Stewart continued: “We want to help people get to know each other and hope to encourage more neighbours than ever to join in to support The Great Big Walk and take part in The Great Get Together celebrations with The Big Lunch. We need everyone to come together to support our walkers, stand together in their communities and cheer them on their way.”

Joe Ferns, Big Lottery Fund’s UK Knowledge & Portfolio Director said:  “Thanks to money generated by National Lottery players, The Great Big Walk is connecting people and communities across the UK. We are excited to be inviting the walkers to visit some amazing projects, created by local people, and share their experiences with others.”

People can get involved in The Great Big Walk by showing support and cheering the walkers along their way. Or go for a stroll with a neighbour, a tour with the town or anything in between and join The Big Lunch on 18 June for the biggest community celebration the UK has ever seen.