SWL’s Unsung Heroes: Clapham man completes Thames Walk to raise money for children’s charity


Alan Curr walked the equivalent of a marathon every day.


By Immi Calderwood

‘Shut up legs’ was a phrase that came in handy for Clapham-based adventurer Alan Curr last week, as he walked the length of the Thames for charity.

Alan, 32, walked the equivalent of a marathon every day for seven days, to raise money for children’s hospice, Shooting Star CHASE.

The charity helps more than 600 families with a child with a life-limiting condition.

Their aim is to help these families enjoy the time they have left with their children by offering practical nursing and emotional support.

When finding a charity to raise funds for, Alan found so many deserving possibilities that choosing one was easier said than done.

When his best friend’s first child was born with pontocerebellar hypoplasia (PCH), however, the decision was made for him.

PCH is a rare brain condition which causes part of the brain to stop developing. This part of the brain controls almost everything the body does as a matter of course: coordination, learning, speech, even the ability to swallow and regulate breathing.

Alan said: “She’s always on oxygen.”

“She’ll never walk, talk, smile, she has no cognitive abilities. It’s the worst possible diagnosis.”

But whilst life is difficult for the child, it is equally tough for their parents. This is where Shooting Star comes in, providing accommodation and support to relieve the strain of caring for a sick child.

A keen traveller, and a self-confessed ‘indoor type’, Alan wanted to do something to really push himself. Having done a great deal of charity work abroad in the past, he was eager to do something closer to home, which is how he hit on the idea of the Thames walk.

The walk itself follows the River Thames from source to sea, a distance of 186 miles. The recommended time for the walk is fourteen days, so by deciding to do it in seven Alan set himself a real challenge.

He said: “At one point I didn’t think I would make it. I knew I was getting slower and slower.”

But the incredible support of friends and the strangers he met along the way kept him going through the gruelling venture.

One man Alan met en-route accompanied him for 45 minutes, and when they parted ways donated £20 to the fund.

 “He didn’t just give £20 because it was all he had in his wallet. He gave a £10 and two £5. He actually wanted to give that much,” Alan said.

“The random kindness of strangers was the highlight.”

Having made the walk such a success, Alan is now keen to find the next fundraising challenge, and will be entering the Royal Parks half marathon in October, if his blisters heal in time.

To anyone thinking of doing something similar, Alan said: “Do it. Stop putting it off. People find reasons not to do things, but instead people should find reasons to do things.”

The walk has so far raised £2,708, greatly exceeding the total Alan originally set himself: “It’s humbling in a way that people actually notice.”

The money raised will fund activities for the children, to give their families a chance for normality.

To make a donation in support of Shooting Star CHASE, visit Alan’s JustGiving page at

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