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Walkers set yet another record 

Yet another record was smashed on on the choir walk on Friday 28 April.  This time 90-year-old Jean Bannister, avid choir fan and mum  of Dave the Navigator, joined the walkers at the Fleeting Brook pub for the first 400-metre stretch, thus breaking the group’s age record held jointly by (probably) Ted Mouat and Bob Mackay.  The record-breaker was serenaded with a photo-call and a chorus of Soldiers’ Farewell at the door of Elizabeth Court Care Home at Caterham Village – built on the site of the commandant’s residence when Caterham Guards' Barracks was redeveloped some 20 years ago.

Walkers with record-breaking Jean Bannister

The next pause came at the old St Lawrence’s Hospital graveyard, a tranquil spot at  Surrey National Golf Course where patients from the demolished hospital were buried. Opened in 1870 as the Metropolitan Asylum, the hospital provided care and support for over 2000 mentally handicapped people from the London boroughs. Like the nearby barracks, the site was redeveloped as housing during the 90s, but with few of the original buildings retained.

Contouring the North Downs

The walkers enjoyed woodland and farmland as they tracked south to the crest of the North Downs, where they savoured extensive views in the company of some amiable horses. We skirted Park Ham bowl, looking down at the path we descended on a previous walk, and contoured above Quarry Hangers – pausing at the point where we had observed a glorious sunset some fifteen months earlier.

Making friends with the horses

The spring sunshine allowed us to sup beer outside The Harrow, our halfway spot, before we plunged into a sea of bluebells on a woodland track at the start of our return leg. From the North Downs Way at Willey Park Farm, we viewed the distant skyscrapers of the City and Canary Wharf, then descended towards the golf course and the former barracks. The Fleeting Brook pub sadly proved unable to accommodate us for dinner, but swift thinking by Dave secured a first-rate  alternative at the Fox on Coulsdon Common. The walkers were joined by Pete and Hilary Smith and social member Ted Mouat, and all concerned tucked in ravenously as per usual.

Return leg across Surrey National Golf Course

 
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