Long Walk to Free-Tom

It's been three long, challenging months, but Tom Clancy has finally made it!

As we've written about before, Tom has been embarking on a very tough challenge to raise awareness of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: for the last three months, Tom has been walking the entire length of the country, from the northern peak of John O'Groats to the far south of Land's End, and chronicling every step of the way on his excellent Twitter. As if this wasn't hard enough already Tom also decided to throw climbing the Three Peaks of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Mount Snowdon into the mix, which meant having to take a detour to Wales, making an already long journey even lengthier!

Did we mention that he was also camping almost every night, carrying his own heavy equipment and cooking his own food?

It seems ridiculously ambitious, but for Tom this was part of the point. Tom has spent the last 11 years living with OCD, his life utterly ruled by the disorder which plagued him with fears about contamination, STDs, health anxiety, being a bad person and more. By doing such a long, difficult challenge, which involves getting dirty, exerting himself and spending countless hours alone with his thoughts, Tom aimed to show that OCD can be overcome and "to change the perception of OCD and to help those suffering from the mental illness".

Awareness wasn't the only reason for doing the walk, however. Tom also set out to raise donations for OCD Action (along with OCD-UK and Mind) in order to help people in the same position as himself. He raised an absolutely incredible £2,190.25 including Gift Aid. Just think how much that total is going to change the lives of people living with OCD! But don't think that this is his final total: visit his Virgin Money page and help him get an even higher amount for his amazing work.

When we last updated you on Tom's progress, he'd made it to Liverpool. By this point he'd already climbed Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike, braved the rocky paths of the West Highlands Way, got blisters in places he didn't even realise he could get them and even been charged by a cow.

The second half of his journey was hardly any easier! Over the last month and a half Tom has been stung by a wasp, accidentally pitched his tent in a wind tunnel, lost his walking poles, had a run in with fox hunters and got into many, many more scrapes.

Tom also had to deal with his anxiety, making him question himself and the validity of what he was doing.

Despite all this, Tom's journey was also as fascinating and full of beautiful sights as the first half.

As Tom journeyed on he eventually made it to his home town of Cheltenham. Here he spent a lovely few days with his family, resting after his long journey. Tom also took this opportunity to meet up with a CBT therapist from Let's Talk Gloucester, the IAPT service that helped him so much when he was first diagnosed with OCD. The therapist accompanied him for a short leg of his walk to support Tom's message. He also met up with members of the local Only Forward OCD Support Group.

Tom definitely needed this rest, as nothing could quite prepare him for quite how difficult the final leg of his journey was: the perilous trek across the Southern coast! The hazardous, windy nightmare tested all of the skills Tom had built up over the last three months, and he spent multiple nights genuinely terrified that his tent would blow over a cliff. Though it did lead to some lovely views!

Not to be deterred though, Tom pushed on. Even some setbacks late in the day, such as being stopped in his tracks by a fickle tide preventing his crossing, didn't stop him.

As Land's End began to loom closer and he began to even notice road signs pointing to it, Tom could scarcely believe his journey was coming to an end. He reflected on how much he'd loved his experience and how he wanted to continue the great work he'd done.

And so, on Saturday 10th September, after an incredible, life-changing three months, Tom arrived at Land's End and finished his journey.

Tom wrote:
I'd just like to thank everyone for their support on my 96 day journey from John O'Groats to Lands End! Everyone on social media, anyone who has sent me an email or Direct Message, all those I have met, walked with and stayed with along the way - it's been an incredible experience and you've helped to make it for me.

Thank you to anyone who has been brave enough to open up to me about their own personal experiences of OCD. From doing this walk I've realised myself what is a fantastic network of support there is out there for OCD and it's important sufferers are aware of this - be it charities, support groups or social media.

A massive thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far and thereby donating to the charities, it means so much, and seeing the total raise as I was walking, reaching various milestones - it spurred me on even more.

And of course a huge thank you to the charities themselves. OCD Action you've been fantastic throughout, thank you for all that you've done - together with OCD-UK and Mind, I couldn't have been more proud to fundraise for you.

It's hard to believe it's all over, however I'm looking at this as just the beginning. I would love to find a job that allows me to continue raising awareness, fundraising and helping others. I also have other ideas in mind for challenges that I would like to take on in the future to further raise awareness of the true OCD.

Thank you again,

Tom Clancy

We can't express just how thankful we are to Tom, and how wowed we are by what he's achieved. He devoted three entire months of his life to raising awareness and donations to help people with the disorder. We hope it's been as much help to him personally as it is to us, and we can't wait to see what this amazing man will do next.

So please visit his Virgin Money page and show him what an incredible thing he's done. Help him raise even more than the whopping £2,190.25 he's raised already.

If you have any fundraising ideas of your own, get in touch with me at charlie@ocdaction.org.uk or call the London office on 020 7253 5272.

But for now, a huge well done to the wonderful Tom Clancy!