The History of Wandsworth Common


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JACK HEATH

Interviewer: Each I circuit of Wandsworth Common that Jack Heath does is 1,326 yards.

He started his marathon walk last Tuesday morning.

Boys and staff from the nearby Emanuel School are pacing him and keeping track of the miles he is covering.

His aim is to beat the present world non-stop walking record of 257 miles whilst, at the same time, trying to raise enough money to buy and train a guide dog for a blind person, about 500.

Collection boxes in local pubs and British Legion clubs is there the hoped for money is coming from.

Apart from his age — he is 54 — what makes Jack Heath's walk even more extraordinary is that eight years ago his legs were so badly burnt in an oil fire that doctors said he would never walk again.

So, he took up long distance walking just to be cussed.

And in those eight years his charity walking has already paid for the buying and training of five guide dogs for the blind.

What gave you the idea of trying to break the world walking record to raise money for the guide dogs for the blind?

Well, I see in the paper that the record went out of the country so I thought I'd have a go and fetch it back in here.

What do you have for food and drink?

Well, they put me on a diet now of milk and eggs.

And how often do you have that?

About every two hours.

If you've been walking non-stop, a silly question, what do you do about going to the toilet? Does that count? Or do you have to stop for that?

No. You have that logged in your logbook.

Boots. If your boots get badly damaged, and you've got to change your boots. Or in the event of a downpour of rain, you're allowed to go and change all your clothes.

Jack hopes to walk a total of 300 miles to make sure he really smashes the previous world record of 257 miles. And that sort of thorough, gentle but dogged toughness sums up the character of this man.

What's been the most difficult part of this of this walk for you? I mean, it's taken you three days and you have been sort of non-stop? Yeah. What's the what's the worst difficulty you have to overcome is a psychological or physical?

No, the worst part is between three and four in the morning. You get down in the dumps then. Plus you are not sleeping at all or not taking any tablets or anything like that. And after three days, it seems to tell on you.

Is it lack of sleep that you're finding the biggest problem?

That's the only problem I've got, lack of sleep.

You've done three days you've got about another three days to go then.

No, I should hope to  . . . 

I'm down to a hundred mile now which will equal the world record and I hope to have that polished off tomorrow. And that leaves me about 43 miles to make up for and I'll probably do that Saturday.

Do you think you'll be able to keep going that long without sleep?

One can never tell. In the army you have to go days without sleep.

What's the condition of your feet, Mister Heath?

There's a little bit of blood there . . .