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Trek from Ashford to Dartford to help Knights Academy of Performing Arts in Northfleet

Three men undertook a 60-mile hike through the Kent countryside to pay for new instruments for young musicians.

Paul Richards, Garry Gardiner, and Jack Easter took three days to complete the challenge to raise money for equipment at the Knights Academy of Performing Arts in Northfleet.

They started their trek in the village of Kingsnorth, near Ashford, before heading westward towards Sevenoaks and joining the Darent Valley Path to Central Park in Dartford.

At the finish at Central Park, Dartford
At the finish at Central Park, Dartford

While the academy was once mainly used to teaching adults to play instruments, recently it has become popular with children and the group is now mostly made up of around 35 eight- to 12-year-olds.

Mr Richards, who is now a teacher at the academy having attended as a child, said: “We have got quite a young group at the moment so a lot of the equipment is way too big for them to be using.

“We try and get them to take the instruments home with them to practise outside lessons as well, so we need equipment that’s more suitable for them.”

The 33-year-old is one of six teachers and four support staff who volunteer at the academy, which provides group music tuition twice a week for just £15 a month to make it affordable for young people.

All learn music, gain confidence, and also have the chance to perform at local events.

Mr Richards is involved in the organisation of the fundraising walk every year, with Mr Gardiner, who co-ordinates the Duke of Edinburgh Award at local schools, mapping out the route.

“We have done it for the last five years and do different walks each time,” said Mr Richards.

“This time we had some of the children join us from Horton Kirby for the last eight miles.”

So far the hike has raised about £3,200, which is well above the target, and donations are still being accepted.

A Just Giving page can be found at justgiving.com/blackknightscorps.

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