AN INTPREPID couple called in at Worcester during their epic charity mission to help raise £20,000 to transform the lives of woman in Afghanistan.

John and Nancy Eckersley reached the halfway mark of their 600 mile walk from Dover to Carlisle in Worcester today. (Thursday)

Mr Eckersley, aged 71, who is a lay reader and his wife, aged 61, a retired vicar, of Flamborough, East Yorkshire, are completing their walk in support of the Christian Aid Project called Transforming Women's Lives in Afghanistan. The couple, who both worship at St Oswald's Church, aim to raise £5,000 but, for every £1 they raise, the European Union will provide an extra £3, taking the tally to £20,000.

The couple made a direct appeal to the Worcester News readers to help them in their mission. They are walking around 11 miles per day and walked from Stourport to Worcester on Thursday, following the Severn Valley. Their mission began on February 21 and is set to end on May 2 in Carlisle in Cumbria.

They are also visiting abbeys and cathedrals, along the way and called in at Worcester Cathedral for evensong. All the help they provide is delivered with a Muslim partner in Afghanistan.

Mr Eckersley said: "This partner is obviously concerned about women's rights and women's equality. It is to help these people to support themselves." The couple say that only 13 per cent of women can read and write in the country but councils are being set up to address the problem. The idea is that if they can educate 1,000 women this will cascade on to quarter of a million women and young girls in Afghanistan.

Of the walk itself he said: "It is a testing challenge. It's certainly not going to be a piece of cake." Two people sponsored them after seeing their tabards.

To sponsor them donate through their Just Giving link which is available at or by sending cheques to Christian Aid, Oxford Place Methodist Church, Leeds, LS1 3AX, indicating "John and Nancy's walk."