A Fulham actor has walked from his home in south-west London to Brighton across two days in memory of Covid-19 victims.
Ellis Tustin, 26, started the walk from Fulham Broadway last Thursday morning and arrived at Brighton seafront on Friday afternoon, with a brief overnight-stop in Crawley.
He undertook the 53.6 mile journey as part of his campaign Names not Numbers, which is pushing for a criminal investigation into the Government’s handling of the pandemic.
Tustin said: “I hope that in doing this walk it serves as a symbol to our supporters of our commitment to take our movement nationwide.
“We want all four corners of the nation to be able to have their voice. This message is bigger than London.
“The support throughout was phenomenal and carried me through.
“The walk itself was a true physical and emotional rollercoaster, I have never known physical pain like it.
“The last 10 miles were the hardest in my life, without being dramatic, I actually collapsed at the end.”
Names not Numbers are campaigning for 23 March, the anniversary of lockdown, to become a permanent memorial day.
Tustin believes memorialisation is a healing device and emphasises the importance of the social elements of grief, from a familiar face at a funeral to two veterans who have never met observing a moment of silence together at a cenotaph.
He ended the walk by placing a banner on Brighton seafront which read: “Those lost to Covid-19 are not statistics. They deserve justice. They deserved better.”
He has encouraged people to follow suit and do their own awareness campaigns in their local areas, whether it be a symbolic event such as a vigil, or a feat of endurance such as his 114,682 step walk from Fulham to Brighton.
Tustin added: “I had never been to Brighton but the next time I do I will be getting the train.”
Tustin has been standing outside Parliament every Wednesday for a year holding the names of Covid-19 victims on cardboard plaques to shame the Government.
Names not Numbers came about after he lost his grandfather Berrice Moore to Covid-19 at the age of 87 last year.
Tustin was unable to attend the funeral in Worcestershire due to lockdown, so he held his own in Fulham, donning a suit and playing Vera Lynn in his grandfather’s memory.
But he was dumbfounded that on the day of the funeral he could still see planes coming in from abroad.
So he took to Parliament with a makeshift headstone bearing Moore’s name and waited for the Prime Minister to arrive.
This became a weekly ritual and Mr Tustin began to take requests for plaques from the families of other COVID victims.
He has made over 300 headstones so far and has 3000 supporters on Facebook, one of whom met him with supplies on the outskirts of Brighton towards the end of his walk.
All images credited to Ellis Tustin.