Walk a Mile pilgrimage march in London interrupted by bomb scare

The annual Walk a Mile pilgrimage march, organised by the Catholic Children’s Society (Westminster) to raise awareness of child poverty, did not pass without incident this year.

Wednesday October 6 started with heavy rain. By the time more than 200 secondary school pupils from all over the Westminster diocese gathered near Tyburn at Hyde Park, the sun had come out.

Rosemary Keenan, head of the Catholic Children’s Society (Westminster), said: “Things were looking good. We then heard that there was a suspicious package within feet of our route at Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, midway between Tyburn and the Cathedral.”

While delayed at Tyburn the young people were warming up for the march with a team from British Military Fitness and responded with much enthusiasm.

Central to the safety and planning of the march are the Red Cross and members of the Catholic Police Guild who provide an escort to the walkers. Officers included DC Fred Umney (Lewisham), PC Douglas McKenzie (Kensington), PCSO Rachida Sobhi (Notting Hill), Tom Forde (Retired Officer), PC Kathleen Ambeelack (Notting Hill) and Mary de Souza (friend of the Guild).

PC Ambeelack said: “Despite all the considerable congestion at Hyde Park Gate and Park Lane being sealed off, all the young people got to the Cathedral safely, although rather delayed. Should there have been a need to divert the walk we utilised our professional working knowledge and had an alternative route identified.”

Recognising the contribution of the Catholic Police Guild, Rosemary Keenan, said: “The team were wonderful as usual and having them in radio contact along the route kept us up to date with developments and saved the day. We are indebted to Mgr Séamus O’Boyle, vicar general, who welcomed the young walkers and put us back on track to focus on the aim of the walk which was to highlight child poverty and the contribution each of us can make to its elimination.”

The Catholic Children’s Society (Westminster) was established in 1859 and provides child care services to assist children and families in the Archdiocese of Westminster.