For probably most of us these days (unless you happen to be, say, a small child or perhaps a member of an especially committed yoga group) to leave the house without something on your feet feels almost on a par with taking to the streets in the half-nuddy.
It’s fair to say that so attached are we, literally and figuratively, to our footwear and its abundance in the developed world that it’s a rare thing indeed for us to spare a thought or two for those for whom even possessing a functional pair of shoes (forget the walk-in, spot-lit boot-drobe) constitutes little less than a survival tool.
One person who does spend a fair bit of time thinking about such things, however, is Lee Todd. This former shoe industry man decided to use his expertise and contacts in the business to set up Shoe Aid: a charity which, to date, has helped to donate thousands upon thousands of end-of-line and unwanted shoes to areas of the world affected by natural disasters and war.
Shoe-Aid’s flagship fundraiser in the city, the Barefoot Walk, took place in the gorgeously sunny surrounds of Wollaton Park last Sunday afternoon, and a very fine (if slightly blister-baiting) time was had by all.
Now into its third year, the concept behind the event is simple: get loads of people from near and far to gather in a nice space, take off their shoes and socks, and then walk along a set course over a distance. In so doing, they raise money for Shoe-Aid as well as any other charity they choose through personal sponsorship.
To entertain the newly naked-from-the-ankle-down on the day were all manner of attractions: from some splendid music courtesy of I’m Not From London and (perhaps for the first time-sharing billing with the notorious Notts promoters) the Salvation Army; an al fresco drum school offering drop-in sessions for passers-by; some terrific belly dancing, a Go-carting track, ice cream vans and sundry fairground stalls for the children attending; and a beer tent for pretty much everybody else.
An ulterior motive behind things was to have a crack at the Guinness World record for the most number of people walking a route barefoot at one time. Although the number of folk participating in the Barefoot Walk 2014 greatly exceeded those of the previous couple of years, alas, it seemed they still fell someway short of the seven thousand or so needed to threaten the record.
Lee Todd and his organising team should not feel even the slightest twinge of disappointment, however, as Barefoot Walk 2014 came off as a fabulous fundraising afternoon for all the family; making us smile and making us think in equal measure.
Here’s to smashing that record next year, hey?