FOR the love of a little girl, soldier Chris Brannigan is taking on the toughest fight of his life to combat excruciating pain by walking 700 miles barefoot to fund vital research.

The barefoot soldier aims to raise £400,000 for genetic research which could help improve the future for his beloved daughter Hasti, aged eight.

She was born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, a rare genetic condition which causes seizures and severe anxiety and worsens as youngsters reach puberty. There is presently very little treatment or research.

So Army Major Chris decided to put his best feet forward to raise the money needed to get genetic research going which would lead to clinical trials. He’s already walked over 500 miles with no boots and carrying a 25kg army pack, arriving at Catterick Garrison yesterday.

He admits often the pain has been unbearable, once resorting to crutches and has often ended up having to crawl to his tent at night.

“I had no idea how hard it was going to be.” said Chris. “But I wanted to do something that would really being attention to what we are doing and to help us raise money.

The Northern Echo:

"I spoke to a friend of mine who runs marathons and said I was planning to walk 700 miles from Lands End to Edinburgh and I was going to do it barefoot – he said it wasn’t possible, so that’s when I knew that is what I had to do.

“I did practice beforehand but only walking maybe 15 miles. Then the first day I did 22 miles and it was agony and it’s been like that ever since. I did start walking on grass where I could at one time but then I stood on a rusty nail on Dartmoor and that ripped open my foot so now I stick to the roads – at least there you can see what you are walking on.

“You just don’t realise how hard and jagged many roads are, especially if you are going uphill or downhill – flat roads are better. I have wondered many times what on earth am I doing but then I think of Hasti and I know why – she is everything to me and my wife, and parents do whatever they can for their children. We want to give her a future.

“I have been absolutely bowled over by the support and kindness I have met along the way. People have been offering money and food and shelter and the army have been phenomenal I have been able to stay at barracks but sometimes I end up just with my trusty one man tent.

“This is both the best and worst thing I have ever done, nothing could have prepared me for the mental and physical hardship it has caused but the sheer volume of support is really uplifting."

Many people turned out along the route to donate and offer support, including Charlotte from Middleham who said: “I think he is doing a really good job,we all want him to finish.”

Chris said he would never recommend anyone else to do the same thing, and if they were they would need to practice by walking on Lego every day for a month.

His journey takes him through County Durham to Otterburn in the next few days, before heading to Edinburgh.

To help go to