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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
21 May 2010

This sounds like my sort of exercise, the 20 km walk through the vineyards of Épernay calling at Joseph Perrier, Pol Roger, Moët & Chandon, Bollinger and Gosset that constitutes the forthcoming Vintners' Champagne Walk. On Saturday 12 June members of the historic Vintners' Company with friends and relatives will undertake this gruelling hike, hoping to raise £100,000, mostly for Veterans Aid, the charity for homeless ex-servicemen, sometimes described as 'the Accident & Emergency of the military charities'. The remainder will go to the Vintners' Company Charitable Foundation.

The 80 walkers have to have at least £500 worth of sponsorship in place and donations can be made easily via the Just Giving website.

Vintners' spokesman Richard Wilson commented, 'Veterans' Aid is unlike any charity we have known. It provides desperate people with what they need, when they need it, whether that need is for clothing, food, comradeship or accommodation. Its immediacy is what makes it stand out - and after seeing what it has achieved first hand, we chose to make it a beneficiary of our charity fundraising walk this year.'

Last year VA provided 20,000 nights of accommodation and helped more than 900 ex-servicemen and women who had fallen on hard times. It is run by veterans, for veterans, but offers instant access to a range of specialist professional support services provided by barristers, addiction counsellors, military psychiatrists and caseworkers. It also runs a hostel in East London for veterans who need longer-term refuge and care.

See here for a short film explaining the background to the walk.

The picture above was supplied by James Simpson MW, whom I had to ask to confirm whether it is of an needy veteran or an exhausted vintner. 'Good question,' he replied, 'impoverished veteran (decent shoes seem to play a key role in the charity's work).'