A Bath grandmother who raises money for the RNLI by walking around the country has been left devastated after her tent was slashed and her shoes ‘urinated’ as she stood in Sunderland.
Tracey Hannam, 55, from Whiteway in Bath, began her mammoth journey on July 4, 2020 after losing her job during the coronavirus pandemic. The grandmother-of-8 had pitched her tent near Sunderland on Sunday May 8 when the shocking incident happened.
Tracey had pitched her tent near Whitburn Beach, around 7:30 p.m. when she decided to go get some sea glass. As she walked back to her tent, she said she saw a group of five youngsters nearby.
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After getting closer, Tracey realized her tent had been vandalized with stab wounds everywhere, her belongings stolen and destroyed. Moreover, they had also urinated in his walking boots.
The tent, which Tracey named Aggie, means everything to her, as she has been “home” for the past two years of walking. Tracey had already traveled 4,000 miles for her challenge to raise funds for the RNLI as she traveled the entire UK coast and she feared she couldn’t continue.
Tracey said: “I felt so vulnerable when I realized what had happened. I felt overwhelmed – all I have is Aggie and my 23kg backpack. I I feel more vulnerable now and will be much more careful.
“But despite what happened, I’ve been overwhelmed with the support people in the North have shown me since. I think they’ve all been so horrified that people are doing this – they’ve really gone to the beyond now.
“The guys at the RNLI base in Sunderland got me sorted with new boots which was so nice. They also helped me get Aggie fixed.”
Bath’s Tracey Hannam has so far covered over 4,000 miles along the UK coast (Image: Tracey Hannam)
Even as Tracey spoke to Somerset Live on the phone, people were coming up to her with donations and anything they could do to help her. A biker named Kevin and his brother Alan, who heard about the incident, even paid for Tracey to stay in the safety of a hotel overnight.
Tracey said: “I was made to feel so welcome and now I’ve had people all the way to Scotland saying ‘Oh I have a garden you can stay in’ or ‘we run a campsite, come here “which is just amazing.”
Tracey also thanked the Northumbria police officers who escorted her to security and said everyone had been “amazing”. Tracey, who has three children and eight grandchildren, said: “The first complete stranger I met in the area paid me a room in a hotel on Sunday night. On Monday morning Greg from the RNLI took me at an outdoor store and said he would buy me a new tent but I said if my tent could be fixed, let’s fix it.
“They also bought me new shoes and socks. They offered to find me another hotel room, but I refused as I was trying to raise funds after all.
“The only way I can describe it is that I felt like they really saved me. They are the most caring people and they care about people in every way, not just at sea.”
RNLI Sunderland Lifeboat Station said: “We are truly disappointed to hear that the efforts of a FANTASTIC RNLI fundraiser have gone so unrespected. Tracey is walking and camping on the UK coast, approximately 12,000 miles, to raise funds funds for our charity.
“It appears her tent was attacked by young people in Whitburn. If you can support Tracey’s cause and help her raise funds to help us continue to save lives at sea, please give generously.”
Bath’s Tracey Hannam lets nothing stop her (Image: Tracey Hannam)
A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “We are investigating a report of theft and criminal damage near Whitburn Beach at around 7.30pm on Sunday (8 May).
“It has been reported that a group stole items from a tent before damaging it and fleeing. This behavior is completely unacceptable and anyone with information can contact the police via the “Tell us” page. something” from our website citing log NP-20220508-0985.”
Tracey thinks her journey across the UK will take another year or two, but she is not progressive and has enjoyed her travels so far.
She said: “When I was roaming the West Country I met some lovely people, in every seaside town you interview and find amazing people with amazing stories and they become friends. Somerset itself is a lovely patchwork of people. “
Tracey was brought to complete her massive journey after going through life-altering events during lockdown, including losing her job and her home with a former partner.
Tracey said: “My happy place has always been the sea because of the things I experienced as a child and where my adoptive parents took me.
“I lost my job at the RSPCA in Chippenham at the onset of Covid. I usually go to America for a month every year to visit my 8 grandchildren – four boys and four girls, but as it was lockdown , this couldn’t happen. So I sat there and thought – it’s true that I have no job, no house, no car, I can’t see my family – what then I do? And that’s where this idea came from.”
Tracey started her coastal journey with enthusiasm, but it didn’t start smoothly. A few miles from her first stop, she tripped and broke her ankle. “It took me about seven and a half hours with my walking stick to get to town.
“When I’m done with my walk I’ll be coming back to Bath to write a book about it all – I’m going to call it Plodding On because that’s what we all do.”
If you would like to follow Tracey’s journey, you can do so here and if you would like to donate, you can do so here.
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This notice was published: 2022-05-11 11:09:30