Jeffrey long, CREDIT Royal British Legion Banbury

86-Year-Old Ex-Paratrooper Overwhelmed By Donations After 86-Mile Trek

Jeffrey Long MBE aimed to collect only £1,000 for charity, but donations poured in from all over the world thanks to social media, raising...

Jeffrey long, CREDIT Royal British Legion Banbury

Age is but a number for this ex-paratrooper who trekked 86 miles all in the name of charity and raised more than £100,000.

86-year-old Jeffrey Long MBE marked his birthday by undertaking the Thames Path challenge for a number of charities including the Royal British Legion, All Saints Church and Support Our Paras.

Jeffrey was a paratrooper in the 1950s and since then has received an MBE for his outstanding charity work, including a 1,000-kilometre walk from London to Lausanne in Switzerland for the Royal British Legion.

A member of the legion for the past 25 years, he raised over £160,000 for the charity before this last endeavour.

Picture: PA Images

This time he aimed to collect only £1,000, but donations poured in from all over the world thanks to social media, raising over £100,000.

It was first a chance encounter with a woman on a train that made the former paratrooper's challenge viral.

Paula Modeste shared a selfie with Mr Long after meeting him, saying that he was armed with a "keen sense of direction and a massive heart".

At that point, he had raised only £300, and her post was shared thousands of times.

But then comedian Jason Manford discovered the story and shared a link to Mr Long's JustGiving page on his social media accounts.

Keeping his fans updated, Mr Manford posted several times, encouraging his followers to set an even higher target:

"He's completed his run now and by the news reports I've read he is absolutely bowled over by the amount of love people have shown him. 

"So one last idea. 86 years old, he walked 86 miles for the British legion Poppy Appeal. 

"Why not get him unto £86k. Just for perfection!"

Mr Manford said that this "really does show the true meaning of 'social' media".

The veteran told the BBC he feels "overwhelmed" and said he wanted to take Mr Manford our for dinner to thank him.

The comedian later updated his Facebook, saying that he would love to go for dinner with Jeffrey, but that 'it's on him, because (the former paratrooper) has already done enough'.

His birthday this year marks his third consecutive birthday walk.

Mr Long travelled 84 miles along Hadrian’s Wall, carrying a backpack with a 20kg weight, for his 84th birthday and 85 miles along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal last year for his 85th birthday.

Cover Photo: Royal British Legion Banbury Facebook