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‘We’re joined at the hip’: Hampstead mum and daughter walk 1,000km for National Autistic Society

PUBLISHED: 15:40 29 September 2020

Olivia Daly, 19, and her mum Andy walking on Hampstead Heath as part of a virtual walking challenge in aid of the National Autistic Society. Picture: Polly Hancock

Olivia Daly, 19, and her mum Andy walking on Hampstead Heath as part of a virtual walking challenge in aid of the National Autistic Society. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

A Hampstead mum and daughter are walking 1,000 kilometres together in a charity fundraiser to break down the stigma attached to autism.

The Dalys with their Ring of Kerry medal for a charity walk they completed on the Heath. Picture: Polly HancockThe Dalys with their Ring of Kerry medal for a charity walk they completed on the Heath. Picture: Polly Hancock

A Hampstead mum and daughter are walking 1,000 kilometres together in a charity fundraiser to break down the stigma attached to autism.

Olivia Daly, 19, is autistic herself and by completing the mega-walk for the National Autistic Society she hopes to raise awareness of the developmental disability and break down social barriers.

“Joined at the hip” by her mum Andy, the Dalys hope to complete the long haul by the end of the year.

Olivia said people with autism “just want to be loved and accepted like other people are”.

She told the Ham&High: “I know a lot of people with learning disabilities and autism who have been victims of hate crime and I’m really scared I may one day get beaten up or react in self-defence.”

For the fundraiser Olivia and her mum have embarked on treks up to 20km through Hampstead Heath, Regent’s Park and Hyde Park.

Andy said that while she and her daughter “do everything together”, the walk - parts of which Olivia completes by herself - was also about helping her daughter gain independence.

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The 57-year-old told this newspaper: “I’m very proud of her, she’s got ambition and drive.

“She’s had lots of challenges which she has overcome and in spite of everything she’s always got a smile on her face.”

Olivia, who went to Highgate School, is taking a year out before studying biological sciences at Roehampton University. She is currently writing a book about her struggles with autism.

Her mum added: “She’s very gung ho, very willing and determined to do everything.”

So far the Dalys have raised £750 - 93% of their target. Originally, Olivia planned to complete the 10km ‘spectrum night walk’ for the National Autistic Society in April before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Then, setting her sights further, she decided to walk a virtual version of the 773km Camino De Santiago pilgrimmage from France to Spain - before adding 227km based on the Ring of Kerry in Ireland.

Despite their team effort, the Dalys say the walk has retained a healthy dose of rivalry.

Andy said: “It’s really fun and we compete against each other. It’s a good way to get exercise but Olivia doesn’t really like it if I’m ahead of her.”

“It’s a friendly competition,” Olivia said.

To donate to the fundraiser click here.


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