A royal surprise greeted former Paratrooper Chris Lewis on completing his UK coast walk that raised more than £510,000 for Armed Forces charity SSAFA.
It has been a tumultuous time in the world since Chris stepped off from Llangennith Beach, Gower on August 1, 2017, to walk 19,000 miles around the UK coastline and raise much-needed money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.
The UK is on its fourth Prime Minister. An apocalyptic climate crisis has been called. The world changed forever because of Covid, and the response to it. A queen died, and a new king was crowned.
And so, it was fitting that His Majesty King Charles III – Head of UK Armed Forces and Colonel-in-Chief of Chris’s old regiment – sent a personal letter to the man who has inspired so many people to donate to SSAFA, so far raising more than £510,000.
The letter – a surprise for Chris – from His Majesty was read on Saturday at Rhossili Bay to the hundreds of people present, by HM Lord-Lieutenant of West Glamorgan, Mrs. Louise Fleet CStJ, JP.
His Majesty, recognising Chris and his endeavours as well as personal challenges and triumphs, wrote:
“Mrs. Louise Fleet CStJ, JP.
“Please convey my heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Chris Lewis on the occasion of today’s special reception in Rhossili, which is being held to celebrate his exceptional fundraising efforts in support of SSAFA.
“I was touched to learn of Mr. Lewis’ highly commendable achievement and inspiring journey, ahead of the completion of his impressive fundraising walk.
“I much appreciate your thoughtfulness in writing as you did. In return, I send my warmest good wishes to all those who are present, and particular to Chris, for a most enjoyable gathering.
Chris’ final words to the crowds that gathered were: “Have a goal, have a dream and stay focused.”
And then everybody clapped and cheered.
However public Chris’s private pilgrimage became – more than he or anyone could have imagined – the most touching moment was the sight of Chris with Jet, Kate, and son Magnus set slightly apart from the crowd. This is a small, ordinary family that has done something extraordinary, and a family wondering where next their journey will take them.