Walker and his dog capture islanders' hearts
by Promote Shetland -
Ex-paratrooper Christian Lewis arrived in Shetland with his faithful rescue dog Jet back in October 2019. His mission: to walk the entire coastline of the UK to raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity. Nine months on and a global health pandemic later, Chris and Jet are finally saying their farewells to the isles today, a bit later than expected but having made some lifelong friends and memories along the way.
"I can honestly say I've met more people that I'll be serious friends with when I leave Shetland after this than anywhere else in the UK," says Chris, who has been overwhelmed by the support given to him by islanders.
"It's very hard to explain to people who haven't spent much time on islands the difference in the way islands are, and the way the people are – the community spirit," he says. "There aren't as many people and it's that that I've fallen in love with. Shetland has just sealed that deal for me. I don't think I'll ever live on the mainland again."
Since arriving in Shetland, Chris and Jet have walked 1,697 miles of the Shetland coastline, including the Mainland and inhabited islands. Supported by the local community all the way, they've been a popular sight to see, and Shetlanders have taken him into their homes and hearts, making sure both he and Jet have had plentiful support and community spirit with every step.
So far, the duo have raised an amazing £154,000 for SSAFA, with £79,000 of his donations coming in during his time in Shetland.
We interviewed Chris for our video just before Scotland went into lockdown, before he had to unexpectedly pause his trip and self-isolate on the uninhabited island of Hildasay for several weeks. Since leaving Hildasay at the end of June, Chris and Jet have gone onto complete their journey in Shetland and will be bidding a sad farewell to the islands tonight.
We wish Chris and Jet all the best for the rest of their adventure and hope they return again one day in the future - perhaps even as new residents! In the meantime, if you'd like to follow Chris and Jet's journey and pledge your support, visit their Facebook and Instagram pages.