Katie Burton, a volunteer befriender for Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin, is a woman on a mission. Two missions in fact. And a serious training programme.

On 4 and 5 May Katie intends to hike 106km, non-stop, around the Isle of Wight and on 8 September she will be one of the 40,000+ runners participating in the world’s biggest half-marathon, the Great North Run.

Katie’s motivation is clear: ‘One of the most shocking things I learned when I first started volunteering with Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin, is that loneliness can be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, that 3.9 million older people say the TV is their main source of company and that 1 million will spend Christmas alone. I’ve realised that it’s so easy in this day and age to just “drop off the radar” and especially for an older person living on their own.’

The first of her tests, the Isle of Wight Challenge, is a tough circular, coastal route with over 2000m of climb along the way, with participants (runners, joggers and walkers) taking anywhere between 9 and 36 hours to complete. As the weekend approaches, Katie has been putting in some final training sessions, running up and down the Wrekin.

Of the upcoming event Katie said: ‘It’s a bit daunting but I’ve done the training and firmly believe the goal of raising funds to combat loneliness and isolation is worth losing a night’s sleep for!’

Heather Osborne, Chief Executive of Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin said: ‘I am full of admiration for Katie; neither of these events are easy and both require a serious amount of training and determination, so to do two in one year is quite an achievement. We are delighted that Katie has chosen to raise funds for Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin in this way and help us continue providing vital services for local older people, many of whom are living alone. Good luck Katie, you are an inspiration.’

If anyone would like to help Katie smash her fundraising target, please go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/katie-burton11 where you can make a donation and also leave a message of support. In doing so you will be helping Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin in their mission to work with and for local older people to improve the quality of later life, whilst spurring Katie on to not one but two great personal achievements.

For information about volunteering opportunities with Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin, please call 01743 233 123, email enquiries@ageukstw.org.uk or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/shropshireandtelford