When Russia invaded Ukraine, ex-army major Tony Williams was too old to join the fight.
So instead he began walking, to raise money for a group giving medical aid to people during the conflict.
Williams, 69, has just walked the length of New Zealand, from Cape Reinga to Bluff, and so far raised $38,000 for Medecins Sans Frontieres [Doctors Without Borders].
“When Putin attacked Ukraine I thought I’ve got to do something. I’m too old to fight, probably, but I’m too young to lie there and do nothing,” he said soon after walking into Bluff on Tuesday afternoon.
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“So I decided I could still walk, there was an opportunity to help someone in the world.”
He used the 2300km walk, [about 30km a day for over 2.5 months] to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders, an international organisation which gives medical aid to people affected by conflict in countries including Ukraine.
He chose the charity because, when he was in East Timor with the army in 1999, Doctors Without Borders had a clinic nearby.
“They were unarmed and we were armed, and I just thought, what an incredibly brave bunch of people.
“They really get into the hotspots and I’ve got total respect for them.”
The walk had been tough, with Williams nursing a leg injury in recent weeks, and he was elated to finish.
His sister, Cathy Williams-Ahuriri, who was his support crew for the entire journey, said the people of New Zealand had been amazingly supportive during the walk.
When walking into Stirling Point at Bluff, Williams was welcomed by a group of people including representatives of the Awarua and Bluff RSAs.
“We think what he has done is tremendous, and what a wonderful cause [to raise money for],” said Awarua RSA president Ian Beker.
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