Veterans

Former Para Continues Charity Walk After Isolating On Island

Chris Lewis paused his trek of the UK coastline when the coronavirus lockdown began in March.

A former British paratrooper has restarted his walk of the UK coastline after isolating alone on an island when the coronavirus lockdown began.

Chris Lewis, 40, and his dog, Jet, were taken by boat from mainland Shetland to previously uninhabited island Hildasay, after the Gorvernment announced restrictions on 23 March.

Mr Lewis had set off from Llangennith beach on the Gower Peninsula, near his home in Swansea, in August 2017.

He is now aiming to raise £200,000 for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.

Both the veteran and his dog have since been living without running water, heating and electricity in a former shepherd's hut on the 108-hectare island.

During his stay, Mr Lewis collected driftwood and foraged and fished for food - always making sure he had a three-week supply of dog food for Jet.

Watch: We spoke to the veteran earlier during lockdown.

Since the late 19th century, Hildasay has been home to just 15 sheep and thousands of birds.

"As we left the pier I sat at the back of the boat not really able to say much," Mr Lewis wrote on Facebook, having left the island on Friday.

"I was sad, and excited at the same time. What an adventure the past three months have been living on our own island during lockdown. I will never forget it.

"I feel I left a part of me behind when I left and look forward to my return in years to come."

Mr Lewis said he had received "frankly outstanding" support from some who carried out regular food and coal drops by boat when weather allowed.

People following his journey have also sent money to the local shop in Burra, as well as gifts, letters and cards, to be passed on.

"I could go on and on with acts of selfless kind gestures from people I've never even met," Mr Lewis continued in the post.

"It's amazing how people simply just want to be kind and help whatever way they can.

"It's incredibly good for the soul. Leaving Hildasay means more than just leaving the island to me."

After leaving the Parachute Regiment, Mr Lewis found himself homeless and had received help from SSAFA.

Chris Walks the UK now has more than 50,000 Facebook followers, with over £140,000 made in donations thus far. 

Cover image: Former paratrooper Chris Lewis and his dog Jet on Hildasay (Picture: Chris Lewis).