Walking 150km to raise funds for children's home

From left: Mr Simon Hamer and Mr Oliver Wingrove during their 58km walk from Raffles Marina in Tuas to Changi Beach last Saturday, in preparation for their longer trek with two others on Sept 30.
From left: Mr Simon Hamer and Mr Oliver Wingrove during their 58km walk from Raffles Marina in Tuas to Changi Beach last Saturday, in preparation for their longer trek with two others on Sept 30.PHOTO: COURTESY OF OLIVER WINGROVE

When the circuit breaker period started in April, Mr Oliver Wingrove found it a challenge getting his regular exercise.

Instead of playing football regularly as usual, Mr Wingrove and his friends decided to take more walks and started thinking about hiking circuits at places such as MacRitchie Reservoir and the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

But the 54-year-old Briton, who has been a Singapore permanent resident (PR) for about 20 years, said it also got him thinking about the challenges that others are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Everyone is having challenges at the moment due to the pandemic but there are always people who have it a lot tougher than we do," said Mr Wingrove.

So he and three of his long-time friends who are also Singapore PRs - Mr Simon Hamer, 52, Mr Chris Tidy, 50, and Mr Greg Clay, 60 - decided to plan a 150km walk around Singapore to raise money for residential children's home Melrose Home.

The home is run by philanthropic organisation Children's Aid Society and helps vulnerable children and youth who face adverse family circumstances, family violence or child neglect issues.

Mr Wingrove, who works for German software corporation SAP as its head of hyperscaler programmes and has been based in Singapore for 23 years now, said: "There are lots of causes that could use support right now, but helping children, in particular, is an area I am keen to give back in."

He has two children - son Henry, 19, is serving his national service with the Singapore Police Force, and daughter Annabel, 21, is heading back to London for work as part of her digital marketing university course. His wife Justine, 52, runs her own property estate management and development firm.

"My children are fortunate and privileged to have a good education and a stable upbringing. But we can't take for granted that every family and child has that same luck and opportunities. That's why I'm keen to give back," he said.

Last month, the group of four completed a "warm up" 39km walk from Singapore's north to south - setting off from the SAF Yacht Club in Admiralty and ending at Tanjong Beach in Sentosa. It took them 71/2 hours.

 
 

TOUGHER SITUATION FOR SOME

Everyone is having challenges at the moment due to the pandemic but there are always people who have it a lot tougher than we do.

MR OLIVER WINGROVE, on why he and three friends decided to do a 150km walk around Singapore to raise money for residential children's home Melrose Home.

Last Saturday, they clocked a 58km walk from the island's western to eastern side - beginning at Raffles Marina in Tuas and ending at Changi Beach. It took 121/2 hours.

They will attempt the full 150km loop on Sept 30, starting and ending at VivoCity in HarbourFront.

Mr Wingrove said they aim to complete the walk over three days, and they will rent a room at a hotel near wherever they stop for the night.

So far, they have raised about $13,000. The aim is to hit $15,000.

The money will go towards developing an unused field next to Melrose Home's premises in Boon Lay, so the children can have a football pitch and a playground.

Residents of the home are typically between the ages of six and 18, and include children referred by Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) for placement due to ongoing protection issues, and others referred by community agencies and families because of various social concerns.

According to a 2018 annual report uploaded on the society's website, Melrose Home's monthly average operating cost is about $241,000. About 53 per cent of this cost is funded by the MSF and the National Council of Social Service Care and Share Movement Fund.

The rest of the operating cost is funded by donations from corporations, organised groups and individuals.

There were 59 residents being cared for in 2018.

Mr Wingrove said: "The kids there have a tough time. We want to help and (developing the field) seems like a good tangible target.

"At this moment, as a community, it's important that everyone sticks together to get through these challenges we are facing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2020, with the headline 'Walking 150km to raise funds for children's home'. Print Edition | Subscribe