A retired Swiss professor and his partner have walked from Switzerland to Cornwall to raise awareness and funds for children’s hospices.

Rainer Zust, aged 65, together with his partner Stephanie and two dogs Leo and Nettie, walked 1,000 miles in 69 days.

They began in Switzerland, journeyed through France and the UK to end up in Perranporth.

Rainer said: “For a long time, we had dreamed of a long-distance hike to Cornwall."

At the start of the pandemic, Rainer was inspired, and spontaneously said to his dog Leo: “Come on, let’s walk to Perranporth in Cornwall.”

He explained: “I often went surfing in Perranporth with my sons and walked on the coastal path with Stephanie. The South-West of England is a wonderful region for all of us.”

Whilst in Switzerland, the couple were raising money for Flamingo children’s hospice, which will be the first of its kind in Switzerland. They raised nearly £50,000.

The hospice, planned in Fällanden, Zürich, will be open to children and young people up to the age of 18 with life-limiting illnesses as well as their parents and siblings.

The building of the hospice was all made possible by the Swiss Children’s Hospice Foundation, and construction is fully underway.

Whilst walking through the UK, the couple were fundraising for Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW), and have raised around £1,000.

The couple paid for the whole trip themselves to ensure that all money raised was going directly to the two causes.

The longest day of walking they completed was 31km, and they reached elevations of 600m whilst walking around West Bay and Lyme Regis.

You can read a weekly account of their walk at www.walkingforshortlives.ch/en/

There was another, personal reason behind the trek, with Rainer explaining: "I had a severely ill child myself who luckily survived thanks to the help of the Children’s Hospital in Zurich." 

The youngest of his four sons needed heart surgery as a child, and thankfully is now in good health.

Beth Rudge, area fundraiser for CHSW, said: “I was quite surprised when we initially received communications from Rainer explaining his unique challenge and how he would not only be raising funds for Switzerland’s first ever children’s hospice but also Children’s Hospice South West.

“Rainer and Stephanie are such positive and inspiring people and we sincerely thank them for every mile they walked and for supporting the work of CHSW for families locally.”