A leading campaigner against the shake-up of Huddersfield’s hospital services has embarked on a 200-mile fundraising walk.
Holmfirth man Mike Forster, chair of protest group Hands Off HRI, is trekking from Settle, North Yorkshire, to Holy Island, Northumberland.
The aim is to raise funds for the group’s legal challenge against plans by Huddersfield and Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to axe the accident and emergency department at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, demolish the Lindley hospital and replace it with a 64-bed “planned care” facility at nearby Acre Mills.
Hands Off HRI has agreed to launch a judicial review of the controversial plans. Lawyers acting for the group have stated that there is a 60% to 65% chance of victory. The legal challenge will be lodged within the next four to six weeks.
Mike’s two-week journey will take him through the Pennines and Northumbrian moors.
Last year, Mike tackled the 180-mile Coast to Coast walk from Robin Hood’s Bay to St Bee’s in the Lake District when he raised just over £600. Mike hopes that with the judicial review pending, he will attract more sponsorship. So far, he has secured more than £700 in sponsorship.
Said Mike: “Last year, people were extraordinarily generous and responded very positively to our appeal for sponsorship.
“Of course, this year, the stakes are a lot higher. We’re no longer just talking about A&E but the bulldozing of our local hospital.
“We are all determined in Hands Off HRI to do whatever it takes to stop these proposals, even if it means taking time out to walk 200 miles!”
Mike plans to regularly update the Hands Off HRI Facebook page with photographs from his walk. Donations can be made direct to the Hands Off HRI bank account at Barclays Bank, sort code 20-43-04, account number 93119130.