Aiden, our first Young Ambassador for The Outdoor Guide Foundation, being presented with his certificate by Gina

In March 2022, Aiden (then aged 6 ¼ years) was inspired at the National Outdoor Expo where he met some of his outdoor heroes and he found out about The Outdoor Guide Foundation and their aim to provide Waterproofs and Wellies to every primary school in the UK.

He was really impressed by an initiative that was aiming to ensure all children can access the outdoors – whatever the weather and being the UK, we know we often need them or have to stay indoors!!

“I chose an outdoor challenge because outdoors is one of my favourite things and I really want all children to be able to stay warm and dry to go outside in all conditions.”

~ Aiden (aged 7)

Aidens TOG Blog
Aidens TOG Blog

With both parents being Scout Leaders, who have loved the outdoors since long before he was born, Aiden has been lucky enough to grow up with good hiking and outdoor kit and he has been camping, hiking and climbing mountains since he was very small. We provided him with clothing and equipment to ensure that he was comfortable and safe while being adventurous outdoors but he really connected with the fact that other children may not be able to go outside if they didn’t have this kit available.

A few weeks after the Expo, we were out hiking on Dartmoor and Aiden talked about how he thought he could do something big, as a challenge, and maybe he could raise money to buy some of the Waterproof and Wellies sets he’d seen… and could we plan it?

He wanted a way of giving something to other children so they can experience and love the outdoors like he does – and we agreed!

His challenge, discussed and decided on that day, was to walk from Okehampton in the North of Dartmoor down to the South to Princetown – well over 20 kilometres. We were happy that this could be over two days but he was adamant he could do it – in a day! And so, we set up the route, planned the (lightweight) accommodation, the logistics of cars each end, and a back-up plan if it was too much in a day…

Aidens TOG Blog

At the end of August, we headed to Dartmoor and camped overnight to allow for an early start. We were up and out of the tent outside of Okehampton to leave just after 7am.

Aidens TOG Blog

During a beautiful day out on the moor he hiked on tracks and paths, across unmarked moor, up and down tors and over rivers. Dartmoor is known for its rough and rugged terrain and during the 10 hours he spent out that day, he didn’t just complete the planned route, it ended up being 25.75km (these things happen even when planned)!

Ultimately, Aiden smashed nearly 16 miles (well over a half marathon) over rough terrain including over 700m of ascent (a mountains worth) in 10 hours!!

Despite some moments where he was struggling, mentally in the middle as well as physically near the end, he pushed through with the distraction of some music, our dog Nevis, and plenty of fuel (sweets included)! He finished smiling, with sore feet, but still somehow even threatened enough energy to do more! We were just hoping no-one gave Aiden any other ideas, at least until we were all recovered…!

We cannot thank enough everyone who donated to Aiden’s chosen cause, the Outdoor Guides’ Waterproof and Wellies appeal, as he was so excited to hear his fundraising total go up and up and we are overwhelmed by the support of family, friends and colleagues. Aiden was thrilled to find out that the money he raised was enough for two whole sets of Waterproofs and Wellies – and that they are now in two Somerset schools being used by children of Aiden’s age.

“Aiden was really interested in the Waterproof and Wellies initiative and when he asked us if he could do a big hike to raise money, we wanted to support him and his chosen cause. Being outdoors is an essential part of our lifestyle and we really appreciate the mental, as well as physical, benefits of being outside in all weather’s and have seen first hand how it can build character and resilience alongside a connection with nature. Having the right kit ensures it is a safe place to have fun and making that opportunity accessible to all children couldn’t be more important.”

~ Charlotte Redfearn-Ward (Aiden’s Mum)

Blog Author: Charlotte Redfearn-Ward & Pete Ward