Former Soldier to walk 500 miles to commemorate WW1 Devonshire Losses

On 1st September, Steve Keane, the chauffeur to the Lord Mayor of Exeter and a former member of the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, will begin a 500 mile walk around the Devon County boundary. Covering approximately 20 miles a day, Steve aims to raise funds for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal as well as public awareness of the enormous sacrifices made by Devon’s soldiers 100 years ago during the Battle of Loos.

Steve will set off at 10 am from Exeter Cathedral Green to make his way to Exmouth to arrive on the promenade at about 2pm. On this first leg of his challenge he will pass through Topsham and Lympstone via the Royal Marine Commando Training Centre.

His route on the north and south coasts will follow as much as possible the South West Coastal Path, whilst his hike inland will follow the county border via Chardstock and the Doone Valley in the east and Bridgerule and Lifton in the west.

The Lord Mayor of Exeter, Councillor Olwen Foggin, whose grandfather Sergeant Ernest Johns of the 9th Battalion the Devonshire Regiment, won the Military Medal for bravery during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, will be present at the start to wish her chauffeur Godspeed.

Steve is not only the Lord Mayor’s chauffeur but is also Mace Sergeant and is responsible for Guild Hall security. He considers this walk to be a fitting tribute to the 1000 men of the 8th and 9th Battalions of the Devonshire Regiment who lost their lives on 26 September 1915 during the Battle of Loos on the Western Front. His walk will take him past the memorial to the 8 Devonshire soldiers from Dawlish who were killed in that battle. His route will also include the memorials to Lieutenant Colonel ‘H’ Jones VC at Kingsweir and Private Theodore Veale VC in Dartmouth.

This physically demanding endeavour is also a commemoration of the ending of the 2nd World War with the Japanese surrender in August 1945.

The walk will end on Sunday 20th September when it is hoped supporters and spectators will join Steve at the Customs House, Exeter Quayside at 11 am for the last mile to Exeter Cathedral Green.

Steve and his assistant, daughter Penny driving the support vehicle, are hoping to raise £5000 in sponsorship.

Donations can be made at or by cheque, payable to the “RBL Devon Walk” sent to 207 Exwick Road, Exeter, EX4 2AU. Mobile Telephone: 07789 412 168.

Click here to see a Map of Keane’s walk