A GP ran a half-marathon for 28 consecutive nights in aid of an under-threat football club and a nine-year-old girl with cancer.

Charles Walker was welcomed by about 30 well-wishers at Didcot Town FC’s Loop Meadow stadium in the early hours of Wednesday morning as he completed the gruelling challenge.

The 62-year-old has raised almost £4,000, despite having no previous association with the club and only meeting young Yasmin Howes on the final leg of his journey.

Read also: Uncertain future for Co-op in Oxfordshire town

But Mr Walker, who was joined by Didcot manager Jamie Heapy for the final stretch, was delighted to enjoy a socially-distanced chat with the youngster and her family.

Herald Series:

Charles Walker (left), with Didcot Town manager Jamie Heapy

He said: “It was amazing to speak to her, although I didn’t want her parents to get her out of bed. I wanted to give her a hug.”

Mr Walker, from Ascot in Berkshire, felt compelled to help Didcot’s £10,000 fundraising appeal after reading about the club’s fight for survival on Twitter.

He joined the supporters’ club and volunteered to take on the 28-day effort when Yasmin’s osteosarcoma diagnosis was mentioned at last month’s meeting.

Read also: Cat loses leg in savage dog attack

“I hadn’t run any great distance since 2017, but they took me up on the offer and I started the following day,” he said.

“I only told my daughter when I was going out for my first run.

“At about 3am I had a text from my wife, asking where I was. She thought I was crazy.

“I normally stay up quite late, so I thought I might be able to go the whole month without her finding out.”

Read also: Hundreds flock to Oxford park for Black Lives Matter protest

The non-league football follower was inspired by five-year-old Lincoln Callaghan, who last month cycled 100km to raise £2,250 for the club.

Mr Walker is a keen runner and completed the 251km Marathon Des Sables across the Sahara Desert in 2015, but had not embarked on a marathon for three years.

Mr Walker set off for each 13-mile run after midnight, generally returning home by 4am to grab some sleep before a full day’s work.

He said: “I’ve had two weeks of foot problems, with blisters, bleeding and trying to avoid falling over.

“I’ve managed to avoid getting injured, but during number 14 I tripped in a pothole and had been limping.

“There’s been virtually nobody out – it’s so quiet and peaceful and I’ve seen some beautiful sunrises.”

Read also: McDonald's reopening causes 'gridlock'

Mr Walker had run the first 27 half-marathons around Ascot, but started the final 13 miles from East Ilsley in West Berkshire.

After being joined by Mr Heapy in South Moreton, the pair ran the final five miles together and received a hero’s welcome.

Donations will be split between Yasmin’s family, the cancer unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital and Didcot Town’s supporters’ club.

Didcot’s press officer, Joffy Chinnock, said: “It’s pretty incredible that Charles – who doesn’t live near Didcot and has never been to a game – wanted to get involved.

“For him to offer is just amazing. I couldn’t imagine even doing one half-marathon at a time when most of us would be tucked up in bed.”

Click here to donate.