AN EAST LANCASHIRE schoolgirl helped to raise money for Amnesty International by challenging herself to walk 2.6 kilometres each day for seven days.

18-year-old Saoirse O’Neill, who is sixth form head girl at Blackburn-based Westholme School, choose the charity because of the research she has done in school, which includes A-Levels in ethics, philosophy and religion, into how they support vulnerable people across the world.

Saoirse, from Heskin, Chorley, was joined by her sisters Niamh and Erin, who also attend Westholme School, and by their dogs Oliver and Cara on the walks which took place from April 29 to May 6.

She said: “The 2.6 challenge is something that most charities have been running during the coronavirus.

“You can pick the challenge – so I chose to walk a minimum of 2.6k each day for seven days and then donate £20.60 at the end of the challenge.”

She added: “Charities have seen such a dramatic decline in fundraising during the coronavirus, so this has been a way to help them raise funds and awareness.”

However, though raising money is important to Saoirse, it is not the only positive she has gained from the experience.

She said: “One of the things I loved most about my time at Westholme School is the send of community.

“Our team leader Mrs Oracz has been really supportive and has been encouraging us throughout the challenge.

“I have received lots of texts from friends and family saying they have been encouraged to take part in their own challenge or donate to a good cause.”

Saoirse also used the walks as an opportunity to spend time with her sisters and their dogs as well as to reconnect with her grandparents, whilst keeping to social distancing regulations.

She said: “On one of the days we walked past my grandparents’ house so they could cheer us on from a distance.

“The dogs have loved it. It was raining for two of the seven days, but on one of those days there was a rainbow which really brightened things up.”

Saoirse will be leaving Westholme School this summer but is glad to have made such a positive contribution that she will be able to look back on in years to come.