A HARDY pensioner who could barely walk a mile a year ago is now planning to trek 90 in the footsteps of Roman soldiers to help repair a church destroyed by crooks.

Rosemary Jewers, 76, is taking on the challenge of walking along Peddars Way which will take her from Balkerne Gate, Colchester, all the way to the north Norfolk coast.

Cash raised for her efforts, where she will be joined by friend Rina Adams, will go towards Grade 1 listed St Andrew’s Church – of which she is a patron – needs a new roof after callous thieves stole the lead from it.

Since the theft some four years ago, the church in Litte Massingham has had a temporary roof covering it but it is coming to the end of its life.

The theft left the community devastated and church bosses are in need of some £150,000 to cover the cost of a proper replacement.

Rosemary said: "I’ve been keen to follow up a story handed down through some four generations of my family, that Peddars Way ran between Colchester and the Norfolk coast.

"Having been born and raised in Little Massingham, Norfolk, this family story really resonated with me.

"While undertaking this 90 or so mile walk, I’m hoping to raise funds to help Little Massingham Church, Norfolk.

" All the money donated will go towards restoring the church roof after all the lead was stolen.’

Until a year ago Rosemary was unable to walk a mile but over the last few months, following a strict training regime, she can now manage more everyday, some days she will be walking over thirteen miles.

The hardy walkers are looking for people to join them when they leave Colchester on September 22 at 10.30am with Colchester high steward, Sir Bob Russell set to ramble to the Suffolk border.

Rosemary added: "I really appreciate Sir Bob offering us his support and we hope it will be an inspiration to others to join us along the route.

"Colchester people have been very generous and from early on started donating to help renovate this Norfolk parish church."

The walk was due to take place in April but was postponed because of coronavirus.

Cash and cheques can be donated via Lings Country Good in Great Massingham or donations can be made online at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/rosemary-peddars-walk.

For more information on Rosemary’s research and where they will be on certain days visit peddarswaycharitywalk.blogspot.com.