WHILE most youngsters spent their summer holidays lounging around with friends, one 13-year-old decided to lace up her walking boots and go for a 268-mile stroll for charity.

Caitlin Whitaker started her trek along the Pennine Way on Saturday, July 13, and has spent the last month completing the route.

Caitline, from near Durham City, raised £1,443 for the North East Autism Society (NEAS) during her walk, which ended on Saturday.

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Caitlin, who lives in High Pittington, was inspired to raise money for the charity after her cousin, Joseph, was diagnosed with autism in 2011 when he was two.

The teenager said: “For a family living with autism, life can be hard and very demanding.

I have experienced it myself, and no amount of empathy can come close to feeling what living with autism is like.

“The North-East Autism Society helps to provide a break for these families, with drop- in community services, education for children and employment opportunities for adults.

“It really is a great cause to support and one that is very close to my heart.”

Caitlin walked an average of 13.5 miles a day and took along the family dog, Paddy, as well as various members of her family.

She said: “I had a great time and a big thank you to everyone who sponsored me.”

All the money she has raised will go to the charity’s new North East Centre for Autism, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

The centre opened its doors in January and features a purpose- built school, short breaks, residential accommodation, family support and outreach services.

Marketing officer for NEAS Lisa Taylor said: “We can’t thank Caitlin and her family enough for their support.

“The money raised will help support vital elements of the centre, such as our sports, health and leisure facilities that are desperately needed.”

Caitlin wrote a blog during her walk, which can be viewed at caitlinspw.blogspot.co.uk, or to donate visit justgiving.


For more information about NEAS, call 0191-410-9974 or visit ne-as.org.uk