George McLeod is just seven months old, but that’s not deterred his family from signing him up for a mammoth walk which will cover the distance of the UK, from Land’s End to John O’Groats. 

George’s Silvercross buggy will be clocking up 1,084 miles with the help of mum Natalie and dad Mark, as well as dogs Marley and Bella. They are raising money for Hope House children’s hospice, a charity which has become an important part of all their lives.

Little George is set to finish the challenge on his first birthday on 4th November. He’ll cross the finish line at Hope House, near Oswestry, the children’s hospice which has supported him from the age of two months old.

George’s sporty parents have covered 50 miles so far and plan to walk seven to eight miles a day with him, taking walks around their home near Shrewsbury. They have many adventures planned for along the way, including sporting venues, and many exciting memory-making photo opportunities. They have already raised more than £300 to help local children with life-threatening conditions and their families.

You can follow George’s progress on Instagram

George was born in November 2023 via emergency c-section. A scan of his brain at six days old showed damage likely to lead to severe motor and cognitive impairments. George cannot feed, is partially blind and experiences seizures. Managing his medical needs and pain relief is a round-the-clock job. At two months old he was referred to Hope House children’s hospice, near Oswestry.

“Receiving a referral to Hope House was a moment of mixed emotions,” says Mark.

“We were very grateful for the support but it was difficult to accept that we needed the help of a hospice.

“We had dreams of standing on the sideline of a football pitch or rugby pitch watching George playing and definitely not spending time at a children's hospice.

Life is extremely difficult for us but more difficult for George. It breaks our hearts to see our baby boy in pain and feel hopeless as parents when we can't console him.

“Hope House provides us a safe space where we can relax with no prejudice surrounded by people who understand.”

Natalie and Mark have always been sporty, spending time outdoors, walking the dogs or enjoying watching rugby or football. Since George was born, a lot of their interests have remained on the backburner including their support of Sale Sharks rugby, and England, Liverpool and Shrewsbury football clubs.

Going out walking is a way of looking after their physical and mental health, says Mark.

“George doesn’t sleep well so we are often exhausted and can find some days a struggle. Knowing that we have to get out whatever the weather gives us the head space and motivation we need to keep going.

“Respite breaks have also proved a lifeline. We’ve just enjoyed a few nights in London, and have clocked up a few miles without George. Although we know he’s in safe hands, we thought about him the whole time we were away. At the Tower of London we heard the story of a raven called George who was banished for being naughty. That made us smile and we had to buy him a raven toy to join all his other beloved toys!”

Mark and Natalie are hoping to raise £1 for every mile they cover.

“We would like to reach a target of £1,084. We are eternally grateful for all that Hope House do for us, and if we can give even just a little back to ensure that they can continue to support families like ours, it would mean the world to us.”

“We are just the horsepower to propel his wheels on his journey, and maybe help him with some bonus miles when he's having a bad day or is on respite at the hospice. 

“We have a holiday to Cornwall booked later in the year so we are hoping to get him to Land’s End in real life.

The online challenge sends you virtual postcards that are earned along the way so we can learn about the UK. We would like to use George’s challenge to raise awareness and funds for the hospice. It will also offer us a lasting memory of a big challenge completed with George.

Support George’s Land’s End to John O’Groats virtual challenge