In the footsteps of heroes for Earlston mother and son

Jack Wilks and mum Karen who will set off on their Help For Heroes fundraising from John O' Groats to Earlston on saturday.
Jack Wilks and mum Karen who will set off on their Help For Heroes fundraising from John O' Groats to Earlston on saturday.

WALKING the 310 miles from the northernmost tip of the Scottish mainland all the way to Earlston in aid of charity would be quite a feat for anyone.

But it will be an extra special occasion in just over three weeks’ time when – hopefully – Earlston youngster Jack Wilks and his mother Karen trudge back into the town after their marathon fundraiser in aid of the Help for Heroes charity.

Aged just 12, it was Jack who informed his family earlier this year that he would like to do something to benefit the charity after bumping into other fundraisers during a family camping trip.

“Our family does a lot of camping, mostly on the east coast of Scotland, and we meet a lot of charity bikers and joggers,” Karen explained to TheSouthern this week.

“The last time we were camping we met someone biking in aid of Help for Heroes and Jack mentioned he’d like to do something to help injured soldiers.

“He has an uncle who served in the army for a long time and wants to join the army himself when older.”

The intrepid mother-and-son hiking team will set off from John O’Groats on Saturday, and over the following three weeks will make their way back to Earlston, camping along the way.

Karen commented: “Jack had mentioned cycling to begin with, but I persuaded him we’d be better off making the trip on foot as I don’t honestly think I could cycle that far.

“I also persuaded him that perhaps we should settle for a shorter target distance than John O’Groats to Land’s End!”

Karen and Jack, who are hoping to raise £1,000, have been getting plenty of training recently in preparation for their marathon hike, walking around Earlston and to other Borders towns.

Although Jack has a younger brother, Neilsen, 5, it was decided it would just be Jack and his mum who would make this trip.

“Jack finished at Lauder Primary School last month and goes to Earlston High School after the summer holidays and we thought it would be nice for he and I to do something together,” added Karen.

“After all, once he gets to high school, I’m not sure how much time he’s going to want to spend with his mum when he’s a teenager.”

Jack says he is confident that he and his mum will manage to complete the 310-mile trek.

He told us: “I’m really looking forward to doing the walk. I want to join the army when I am older, so I think this is a good charity to be raising the money for.

“If I am a soldier when I am older, I might need their help.”

Bryn Parry, chief executive and co-founder of Help for Heroes told The Southern: “Jack and Karen’s wonderful challenge of walking 310 miles to fundraise for Help for Heroes is welcomed, they should be congratulated on behalf of all those who will benefit. A great effort!”

Donations can be made online at