Balwant Singh Grewal’s latest – completion of a 3,000-km walk from Kanyakumari to Delhi to spread awareness about blindness and raise funds
India At Large staff
An 80-year-old NRI based in London and native of a village near Ludhiana in Punjab just concluded a 3,000-km walk from Kanyakumari to Delhi to spread awareness about blindness and raise funds.
Grewal, who heads the UK-based charity India Association, started the walk on October 26 last year. The fund he collected during the course of his walk will be donated to ‘Saksham’, an organisation working for the cause of the blind, and the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
During his six-month-long walk called ‘Bobby Walk Full Circle 2015,’ Grewal covered 4,160 km to raise up to 1.5 million pounds.
Grewal, fondly called ‘Bobby’ by his friends, covered places such as Madurai, Puducherry, Chennai, Nellore, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Asansol, Ranchi, Gaya, Patna, Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur, Lucknow and Noida, before reaching New Delhi.
Grewal was accompanied by a team of four – his ‘walk project’ director and joint secretary of India Association Dr Rajan Bhanot, a driver, a chef and a cleaner.
Upon completion of his journey, he was received by Indian minister of urban development M Venkaiah Naidu at the India Gate in New Delhi. Grewal said his walk has generated substantial awareness about blindness. At a gurudwara in Nagpur, about 200 women came forward to donate their eyes, he claimed.
This is not the first time Grewal has gone on a long walk. A few years ago, he undertook a 500-mile walk from the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to the English Houses of Parliament in Westminster to raise a million for bowel cancer research at St Mark’s Hospital in Scotland.
In fact, he is no stranger to personal challenges. A keen sportsman all his life, in 2001 he ran the London Marathon in just over 5 hours, and in 2004/5 (aged 68) he completed an extraordinary walk covering 2,500 miles across India from the North-West frontier to the deep South. This walk raised £100,000 for research into Cancer and AIDS.
Bobby is a remarkable man in many ways. Born in Punjab, India, he has lived in Britain since 1958 and is very proud to be British, not having forgotten the values of life he inherited from his birthplace. He has worked as a successful property developer and now passionately believes in giving something back to the society which has given him a very good life during his time in Britain.