When someone put a copy of Country Walking through Anne's door they didn't know how much of a difference they were about to make...
What should we know about you Anne?
I'm 60 in January, and I'm a front of house Receptionist in an office block in Bristol City Centre.
How did you get involved with the challenge?
I started the in June, after reading the magazine from cover to cover, which just dropped through my door, I didn't order it or pay for it... somehow it seemed like a sign! Sounds daft, but I was preparing to run awa... just me and the dog... not to commit suicide or anything like that... just run away and hide for a while. But instead I signed up for the 500 mile challenge, dug out my Fitbit thingy and put the dog's lead on. It gave me something to focus on, and get my teeth into. I'm on 193 miles as I write this.
How were you before you started?
I was very down, although I work, and have a Husband and family all grown up and left home, I was extremely lonely, and down in the dumps. My husband works 12 hour shifts which leaves me alone a lot of the time, and I felt that I didn't matter.
That's why I contemplated running away to hide. But instead I got my teeth into walking....every step counted, and I looked forward to filling in my chart every night, I worked out I was doing 5 miles a day just walking around, so I try to do an extra 2 or 3 miles a day walking the dog in the week, and at week-ends find a nice walk we can do together. I've found walks I didn't know existed. Then I signed up for the Facebook group, and I felt that I had loads of friends instantly, everyone welcomes you when you start, and supports you when you feel low, and rejoices in your triumphs when you're on a high. It really is wonderful.
How much has the challenge changed things for you?
I feel so different, still lonely sometimes, but put your boots on and grab the dog and go for a walk, someone will say hello and perhaps stop for a chat. I also feel more motivated. And I'm happy!!!! I've also got lots of friends, okay not personally but on in the group – you only have to make a comment and someone somewhere is awake and will answer you, give advice or praise you. It has really really changed me. I have lost 7lbs and have a nice trim Labrador. I will be the first to sign up for 1000 next year, and hopefully be able to achieve it.
If it hadn't been for that magazine dropping through my door, who knows what or where I may have been. I had already started to get things together to disappear, which I have now got rid of. There have been lots of tears writing this, admitting how I felt. Country Walking is inspirational and I don't think you realise what you have created here with #walk1000miles. It's marvellous!