ONE courageous lady yesterday finished a gruelling 10km walk – which she began more than nine months ago.

Multiple sclerosis sufferer Heather Thompson completed the last of 200 laps of Northland Methodist Church, in Darlington, to achieve the distance, timed perfectly to coincide with the final day of London’s Paralympic Games.

The 52-year-old, who usually uses a mobility scooter, began her walk on Christmas Day and completed one 50 metre lap every time she went to the church.

Her efforts have raised £5,200 for Darlington MS Society.

Mrs Thompson braved the poor weather and overcame her own health problems throughout her challenge to cross the line for the final time yesterday, to be rewarded with a medal marking her determined achievement.

“It was a wonderful feeling to finish and quite emotional too, because it took quite a while,” she said.

“There were times where I was not well enough to complete a lap, but raising the money was a real inspiration and definitely kept me going.

“I just hope it has raised awareness of the difficulties that people with MS suffer, and the need for physiotherapy to help them.”

Mrs Thompson, of Oakfield Lodge, Darlington, also organised three teddy bears’ picnics, which have helped raise cash for the charity.

Originally intended for the Arctic Circle, in Norway, the picnics were held at Raby Castle, near Staindrop, County Durham, and Talkin Tarn, in Cumbria, with the final event taking place yesterday at Northlands Methodist Church.

She said: “I’m delighted we have raised so much, and although the teddies couldn’t get to the Arctic or around the UK because I was not very well, the picnics were very popular with everyone.”

And just like the determination shown by the country’s Paralympians, Mrs Thompson have inspired her to continue walking.

She said: “I wanted to finish on the same day the Paralympic Games ended because I thought it would be quite a poignant moment.

“But I’m now looking to do another 5km by Christmas Day, that will keep me going and out of my chair, which is good for me.”