Kind Irene steps forward

81-year-old Irene De Abaitua takes part in a sponsored walk down the end of her street.  She is pictured with some of her supporters and sponsors.
81-year-old Irene De Abaitua takes part in a sponsored walk down the end of her street. She is pictured with some of her supporters and sponsors.
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There was nothing holding back determined pensioner Irene de Abaitua when she carried out a “walk of faith”.

The 81-year-old decided to take on the sponsored walk, to raise money for the upkeep of St Paul’s Church in Marton, where she is a parishioner.

Irene – who is disabled due to arthritis and an injury she sustained 18 years ago, while lifting and caring for her mother following a stroke – is normally wheelchair-bound outside.

But she set herself the challenge of walking 365 yards for the good cause.

The plucky pensioner has now raised more than £400 – after completing the 742 steps, using her walking sticks, in 11 minutes.

Irene, who worked for Burton’s Biscuits for 30 years, said: “For most people it’s spitting distance.

“But it was a bit of a trial for me. My friend walked the same distance in 100 steps and made it there and back in under two minutes.

“But I’ve not done a long walk like this for a long time.

“I was in a lot of pain, my legs ached and it was a struggle.

“But I’m so glad I’ve done it.

“Everyone was cheering me on and shouting ‘you’re nearly there’. Their support kept me going.”

Irene, who also does voluntary work in the office at St Paul’s one morning a week, dedicated her sponsored walk to her good friend and fellow parishioner Daphne Bryson, who died aged 84 earlier this month.

She added: “Our church is like a family and the parishioners do a lot for the upkeep of the church. People think churches run by themselves.

“But there are a lot of costs involved. We have to pay for electricity, heating, and the wages of the clergy.

“We decided that some of us would help raise some money for church funds. I can’t bake or help people around the house. The only thing I thought I could do that would be a challenge is a sponsored walk – it was my walk of faith.

“I had such an amazing amount of support.”

• If anyone would like to support Irene’s challenge, donations can be made to St Paul’s Church, Honister Avenue, Marton.