At lunchtime on Friday 13 September, 77-year old Mid Beds Labour member, Maggie Herod of Silsoe, and her faithful rescue dog, Kiwi, were warmly welcomed at Limehouse Basin by Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse. This marked the end of Maggie’s 53-mile, six day walk along the River Lea, from its source at Leagrave in Luton, to Limehouse Basin, where it joins the Thames.
For Maggie this has been a richly symbolic journey to raise awareness of and to celebrate the work of foodbanks. “This walk has represented a microcosm of the world of foodbanks”, explains Maggie. “The River Lea used to boast of 14 water mills – now only one working mill survives at Mill Green in Hatfield. I walked through 12 foodbank areas, and at the beginning of each day’s walk, I presented a food hamper to the local foodbank – a symbolic reaching out from Luton Foodbank to our fellow foodbanks on the Lea”.
Maggie presented hampers to Harpenden, Hatfield, Hertford, Broxbourne, and Bow foodbanks.
Maggie has many warm, funny and heart-breaking stories of her experiences as a Luton Foodbank volunteer. Her aim was always to raise money for Luton foodbank and also raise awareness of the desperate poverty people are being left in as a result of Austerity and the roll out of Universal Credit brought in by the Tory government.
Maggie and Kiwi were accompanied most of the walk by friends, foodbank representatives and supporters, and Labour Party representatives, including Rosie Newbigging, Parliamentary candidate for Welwyn and Hatfield. She was accompanied on the final stretch through Hackney and Limehouse by Sioban Wall and Fr Raimondo, representing Bow Foodbank, and Mid Beds Labour press officer, Margaret Rooney, from Cranfield.
None of this would have been possible without the support of Maggie’s husband, John, who drove her to the starting point each day, and picked her up at the end of the day. “I feared that I might have been expecting too much of Kiwi,” she declares, “but he was wonderful. I believe he enjoyed the experience.”
So far Maggie’s walk has raised £735.00 for Luton Foodbank, and money is still coming in. For full details of Maggie’s walk, including photographs, or to make a donation, visit the Luton Foodbank website: http://lutonfoodbank.org.uk/lea-valley-sponsored-walk/