Tony's walk longer than the road to Damascus

(1) Tony Russell

A quarter of a century ago Tony Russell walked to every professional football club in England and Wales - a  staggering 2,355 miles - to raise money for cancer research. That’s farther than from London to Damascus in Syria. And now, at the age of 56, he plans to trek the same epic distance - this time walking to mental health organisations.

Starting on 22 March at the Bethlem Hospital in Beckenham, Tony will then head north visiting sites around the country that support mental health through the creative arts.

Tony is the founder of Breakthrough Art, which promotes positive mental health through the creative arts. It showcases the artistic talents of people with mental health problems through its Reflections Magazine and campaigns to influence national policy on art and mental health.

The walk will raise funds to support the work of Breakthrough Art and also the charity Combat Stress, which supports ex-service personnel with mental health conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Tony, who has suffered from mental health problems himself, believes that publicising the talents of people with mental health problems can help to restore their self-worth and confidence. 

But there is another more philosophical objective to Tony’s walk. For unlike Saul on the road to Damascus, he is hoping for a revelation. Calling his journey the ‘What’s it all about epic charity walk’ Tony will be interviewing politicians, celebrities and senior heath professionals along the way in a bid to discover the meaning of life, the universe and everything.

Oxleas is the second trust on Tony’s walk. To support it, we will be holding a health and arts festival at Memorial Hospital, Shooters Hill on 24 March where Tony will be the guest of honour.

You can support Tony by buying T-shirts for £10.00 each. Cheques should be made payable to Breakthrough and sent to:
7, Eshton Court
S75 5QG.

To find out more about Breakthrough Art or for details of Tony’s walk, go to

Published on 27th January 2011