John steps out to raise cash for refugee academics and students

04 May 2016

Factory 2050 project engineer John Egginton is putting his best foot forward to raise money for academics and students, forced by war and other forms of violence to flee their homes and seek refuge in Sheffield.

John, 27, is hoping to raise £1,000 by joining the Big Walk, which will see two teams from the University each walk over 120 miles over six days along the Trans Pennine Trail.

"The University has given me a great education, a good start in life and an interesting career, and I felt it was time to give something back," said John.

"These refugee students and academics have faced terror in their own lands, journeys covering many hundreds of miles, often on foot through hostile territories, yet there is so much they could contribute to the world if we give them the chance."

John keeps fit as a net minder for the University ice hockey team, the Sheffield Bears, but admits he hasn't done much long distance walking in recent years.

"I did the Lyke Wake Walk when I was 16, to help raise money for the Scout troop I was a member of. That's 42 miles in one session, but that was a dozen years ago and my knees have taken some punishment since then," says John.

Participants in the Big Walk, which starts on Sunday June 12, will be covering up to 25 miles a day for six days. One team will start from Southport, on the West Coast, as another sets off from Hornsea on the East Coast and the two are due to meet at Tankersley on Thursday June 16, before walking back to Sheffield together the following day.

If you want to help John raise money for refugee and asylum-seeking academics and students, visit John's Just Giving page:

More information about The Big Walk 2016 can be found at

  • Sheffield University is a University of Sanctuary and is already offering fully funded undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships for refugees, including those seeking asylum in the UK. Fundraising in 2016 will further support these scholarships - potentially increasing the number of refugee students the University can support.
  • The University has strong links with a number of programmes to support academics, including the Institute of International Education's Scholar Rescue Fund and the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA), a charity which helps academics in immediate danger, those forced into exile.
    Through these partnerships, the University can host academics who are in danger or exile, giving them a place of safety and the financial and practical help to continue their careers until such as time as they can return home.
  • Academics who have been helped by the University include Dr Moaed Almeselmani, who was a lecturer at Damascus University and a Senior Researcher at the General Commission for Scientific Agricultural Research in Syria until he was threatened by regime forces in his home which was later destroyed by missiles after he and his family had fled.
    Dr Almeselmani was awarded a fellowship by the Institute of International Education's Scholar Rescue Fund, with matched funding from the University's Faculty of Science and its Alumni Fund and is undertaking research on drought tolerant wheat, which links in with the University's plant research and will benefit communities around the world.

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