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Man's 19000km walk for charity that saved life

Words by Smiley Team

A man is walking 19,000km along the UK’s coastline to raise vital funds for the charity that saved his life. 

After being expelled from school when he was 14, Josh Codling from Romsey, Hampshire, became heavily involved in drink and drugs while sofa surfing with friends. In May 2020, Josh attempted suicide. Four days later, he woke up from a coma in Intensive Care in Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital. While he was recovering in his hospital bed, Josh had a ‘lightbulb moment.’

“I knew in that instant that I had to do something to change my life, something healing and positive, something big," he said. 

In May 2021, Josh strapped on his walking boots and backpack full of spare clothes and set off on the South West Coast Path walk from Poole Harbour to Minehead, Somerset, to raise money for the Air Ambulance charity – Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance – that saved his life.

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Josh has now decided to push his challenge and himself to the limit and walk 19,000km around the entire UK and British Isles coastlines: England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Outer Hebrides, Shetland Islands and the other islands around Britain.

“I've already covered over 400 miles of hard terrain around the south-west coast, and I've never been happier," he said. 

“Every day differs. I have no itinerary or set miles to cover. I just keep the sea to the left and walk. I'm not governed by time or dates, or society's pressures. I'm as free as a bird and I feel more alive than I ever have.

“My confidence has come back and exceeded anything I could have possibly imagined. I can now walk into a room full of people and happily tell my story with confidence and conviction.”

With no plan of action or route properly marked out, Josh relies heavily on the generosity of strangers he meets in each town, village or beachside retreat. With his tent as back-up, Josh has been invited to stay in the spare room of strangers’ homes, pubs and guest houses.

“I'm meeting so many kind people every single day. And it's becoming apparent that the kindness of strangers does exist – and exist in abundance.

“I'm constantly receiving messages on my JustGiving and Facebook pages. I’ve met so many people who have a connection to mental health and male suicide. Unfortunately, it's rife. And I'm so glad I'm having a positive impact on an array of different people, from all walks of life.”

Inspired to act?

SUPPORT JOSH: You can donate to Josh's JustGiving page and raise vital funds for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance.

FOLLOW: To follow Josh’s journey online, visit:


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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