(Pictured in the banner image is Debbie in her Day two outfit!)

How do you make a sponsored walk stand out from the crowd? The answer is you wear a posh frock,  – the kind you normally reserve for a wedding or a christening, together with your walking boots.

This was the brainchild of Debbie Clark, Safeguarding Officer at All Saints Church in Cadney (near Brigg in the north of the county) who wanted to raise funds for the church following lockdown when its regular income from collections and other fund raising stopped.

Debbie had a plan – if Cadney to Lincoln Cathedral is 27 miles, she could walk back and forth from Cadney to Howsham every day for a week which would equal the same distance.

That decided she went to bed. The following morning at 4.30am when her husband got up for work Debbie’s mind was whirring away – how could she make her walk different? That was when the #poshfrock walk was born.

Debbie said: “I don’t really wear skirts or dresses except for special occasions so to make my walk different I thought I would wear them. It was nice to get dressed up and on one day I was wearing another wedding outfit that I had bought complete with the hat. The walking boots don’t exactly do the outfits justice but there you go!”

Her first walk was on Monday 4th May and on that day she sported the dress she wore when her and her husband John renewed their wedding vows on their silver wedding anniversary in Cadney Church in 2016. “Obviously on the first day I wanted to wear something really special so I chose the blue dress that I wore when John and I renewed our vows. It always feels special to wear it” Debbie said.

Photos were taken of Debbie at the Howsham signpost and again at her destination in Cadney and these were posted on the Cadney and Howsham News Facebook page and Debbie Tweeted them (#poshfrock). More photos were posted each day of Debbie in her latest outfit and her son Stephen filmed Debbie for sections of the walk. These mini films were shared with some other local Facebook pages and they started gathering momentum with views and people commenting.

Local media picked the story up and the Market Rasen Mail wrote a story about her fundraising efforts and BBC Humberside kept giving it a mention. A friend of Debbie’s told her to tune in one morning when the presenter, Amanda White, read out a really lovely email, in which someone had written that she was lifting everyone’s spirits and reminding everyone to come and give her a wave as she walked by.

Debbie said: “The reactions from people were wonderful and as the week went on people started turning out to wave to me as I went past or came to give donations. The day it was mentioned on the radio I received six donations before I even left Howsham.  I started filming the people waving to me and my son edited all these together. This really captured the beautiful day, the lovely countryside all around, and all the happy, cheerful people encouraging me as I walked past. This went down really well and for the rest of the week we did more films showing the people I met.

“The last day of my walk was Friday 8th – VE Day - and my husband and son came with me to do some more filming. The bunting was out everywhere and loads of people were out and waved and gave donations as we passed. A lovely family in Cadney I filmed the day before were ready for us, the four children waving and we filmed them as we went past which the children really loved. Their mum Maria commented later on the Facebook post; ‘Fabulous, well done Debbie you have brought everyone together in a time when we're having to be physically apart, all while raising money for our wonderful church, well done xx.’ As we came round the corner on Vicarage Lane in Cadney on Friday, we could hear talking and a group of Cadney people had waited for us to arrive at our finishing post and clapped us when we got to them which was really special.”

Friends had been keeping the local media up-to-date with her exploits and an interview with BBC Radio Humberside was arranged for the Saturday morning when Debbie could talk about what she had been doing and hopefully get a few more donations. As she waited to go on air she heard the presenter, Kofi Smiles, say ‘and we are about to speak to our ‘Hero of the week’.

Debbie said: “So many friends and family were listening so I was so thrilled to be called the hero of the week. It really was a very special experience, the weather was good every day, and each day the walk took longer as more people stopped to wave or have a quick chat. I knew we had lots of special people in both villages, but my week of walking really showed me that. It has been very humbling, to hear all the kind things people have said. The donations have kept coming in too – one couple did my walk knowing they would see me somewhere in the middle to give me a donation – it’s all been such a beautiful positive experience.”

For the fashionistas out there here are the outfits, many of which were bargains from local charity shops:

Day 1: Wedding vows outfit - Navy and sky blue dress, navy belt and blue and white striped jacket

Day 2: Red dress and black jacket

Day 3: Great Nephew's christening outfit - Pink and purple and floral print dress with grey scarf

Day 4: Niece's wedding outfit - Pink and blue button through floral print dress with beige straw hat

Day 5: Party frock (worn once) - Blue floaty handkerchief dress with a poppy scarf and a white ribbon to make the outfit red, white and blue for VE Day. 

If you would like to donate to the church please go: @Cadney_Howsham or visit their Twitter page which still has the donation details pinned to  All Saints bank account, the details are Sort code: 54-41-26 account number 48262390.

You can watch all of the videos on YouTube.

This story was published on Friday 22nd May 2020.