Bid to get 500 pairs of shoes to stricken children

Judith Burney has collected over 500 pairs of shoes. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Judith Burney has collected over 500 pairs of shoes. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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She’s the charity worker who would walk 500 miles with 500 pairs of shoes – unless a kindly van driver steps in to help.

When Judith Burney decided to launch an appeal for children’s shoes, she never imagined her call would prove as popular as it did.

The mother-of-two from Silverknowes started the unusual fundraiser after stumbling across the Facebook page of Sal’s Shoes, a charity that ships used footwear to needy children all over the globe.

But after embarking on a campaign to help the organisation, Mrs Burney was quickly snowed under by a mountain of generosity.

Now, with more than 500 pairs of shoes stashed away in her garage, the nurse faces her biggest challenge yet – finding a way to transport the assorted boots, trainers and pumps to Croydon, south London, where Sal’s Shoes is based.

Once there, the charity can take over and ensure the shoes are handed to needy children from as far afield as earthquake-stricken Nepal, where they will play a vital role in youngsters’ lives – protecting against injury and infection by parasites such as hookworm.

Mrs Burney, a nurse practitioner at the Western General Hospital, said: “I was just overwhelmed. I didn’t think I would get so many pairs.

“It’s been amazing, the response to it, but now it’s just a case of trying to get them moved on.

“I’ve done charity stuff before, and I know how generous people are, so I should have known. We had to stop counting them because we just couldn’t, but there must be 500 sitting in the garage.”

Mrs Burney has been given quotes of between £290 and £490 to get the shoes moved down to London, but now she is appealing for a kind-hearted driver to step in to help for free.

“What I’m looking for is somebody who is going down there anyway, who can take the shoes with them,” she said.

“It doesn’t even have to be one person – two or three people who are going down could take some of them.

“We have some quotes for silly amounts of money. But I’m just a mum with kids who decided to try to help. I’ve got to get them down to Croydon, and then the organisation will ship them overseas. Nepal is the place where they need them most.

“Shoes are as important as vaccinations and clean water and all the rest of it. If children don’t have shoes they are so prone to infections and things like worms.”

Camilla Bowry, founder of Sal’s Shoes, said: “We’re so chuffed Judith organised this collection and grateful for the overwhelming response she’s had from the generous folk in Edinburgh.”