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Tom Backhouse walks wild for Devon Air Ambulance

Throughout 2017 our supporter Tom Backhouse will be walking the length of the 15 UK National Parks to raise funds for Devon Air Ambulance. Tom was inspired to fundraise for Devon Air Ambulance after his sister Kate was airlifted in 2016.

In Tom's own words:

The past 12 months has been one of changing perspectives. Difficult times personally and professionally culminated in learning things about myself and what makes me feel fulfilled and successful. Growing up, if you were to ask me what the benefits of owning your business were, I would of very likely replied 'power and money', however, following the personal events of this year and the rapid growth of Terrafirma, my answer today is very different. It is cliché, the scenario of a family tragedy changing someones perspective, however, it is also humbling and refocuses your ambitions towards the people and experiences that have supported and shaped you. 

My business Terrafirma was developed out of a passion for hard work, a particular skill set and innovation but it is very quickly becoming a cooperate beast, spanning the UK with multiple staff and its own hunger for more. It will be ever-expanding, consuming my time, energy and life and before January last year, it may well have swallowed me whole. However, on the 16th January, my younger sister was involved in a road traffic accident that very nearly took her from us. It was a period of our lives that we would much rather forget, with unimaginable emotions that I can only assume are topped by actual grief. Through the incredible support of my family, the staff at Derriford and Plym Hospital and the life-saving Devon Air Ambulance, my amazing sister is still my amazing sister. 

So to give back, specifically for the real-life heroes that operate and devote their lives to the Devon Air Ambulance. How can you begin to repay what was done not just for my sister, but for hundreds of other lives every single year? Devon Air Ambulance, like the many other Air Ambulance charities across the UK save lives but are funded, often to the tune of several million a year, independently. They rely on fundraising and local businesses to survive and in their 25th year, I want to give as much back as I possibly can to the Devon Air Ambulance Trust, raising awareness and funds over the course of 12 months. 

Truthfully, this isn't just about Devon Air Ambulance and it isn't just about my sisters accident and the perspective it has lent me. It is also for me. Since before I remember, I have lived for the outdoors. Everything that I have ever done to make me happy; personally, academically and professionally, has been in or focused around the outdoors. I thrive off, almost addicted to, new experiences and the great outdoors can offer that continuously, no matter how many times you may have visited the same place, every time it may offer something new. The wild, the outdoors is my sanctuary. Somewhere I can loose my over-reactive, over-imaginative, ever-switched on mind. And so, Wild Walk UK is about more than fundraising, it is about visiting parts of the UK that I have never been too, seeing a view from new angles, dipping in magical gorges or lost moorland tarns, tasting a local ale brewed in the pubs shed... the list can go on and on, and that's the ambition. 

What if the experiences, moments, secrets you encounter on your walks could be captured and shared. What if you could drive to any national park and follow in the footsteps and share in the experiences of others. We could explore and discover all locally on our doorstep. The Great British outdoors is a heaven on earth and it should be delighted in at every occasion by everyone. An idea behind Walk Wild UK is for me to do exactly as I have outlined, walking across the national parks over a year, capturing my journey and sharing it with others. 

You can follow Tom's journey at his Walk Wild UK website as well as follow him on Twitter @WalkWildUK

To sponsor Tom please visit Tom's Just Giving page

Photos above: Tom and his sister Kate. Tom on Exmoor.

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