‘I’ve always been petrified of them.’
So says 1000-miler Jen McLoughlin from Widnes, of the fear that has introduced an unwelcome stab of adrenalin to so many of her walks – until something changed.
‘I’d literally run screaming from birds, which is embarrassing at my age. I mean literally screaming. My mum has a cockatiel and it was out of its cage, and I didn’t know until it started flying. I dropped to the floor and crawled out that room screaming. God knows why I’m scared of them.’
But Jen’s #walk1000miles challenge sees her walking daily through a park where birds are an inevitable feature. On one early-morning outing with her son, it was time to face her fear.
‘I’d always given the ducks a wide berth before, but for some reason that day we decided to stop and feed them. I was actually shaking and crying! But somehow I got through it and now I do it every morning. They run up to me!’
So much has Jen’s outlook changed, she now even volunteers with a group called Swan Squad in Widnes which keeps an eye on the wellbeing of the local swans and ducks.
‘I’ve been watching one swan family for a while and the make has been really defensive, then today when I visited they’d had four cygnets. I felt like I’d become a mummy again!’
‘I would never have conquered my fear if it wasn’t for walking past them everyday and I would never have started walking if it wasn’t for the challenge!’