IPSWICH Town fan Malcolm Thompson is embarking on a gruelling 300-mile walk to raise money for the Kevin Beattie statue appeal and Prostate Cancer UK.

Mr Thompson, from Clacton, will be taking on the eye-watering challenge in December walking from Carlisle - the birthplace of Blues legend Beattie - to Town’s Portman Road ground.

Mr Beattie, widely regarded as Town’s best-ever player, died in September and a statue of the former defender is due to be unveiled on what would have been his birthday - December 18.

Money raised from the walk will go directly to the appeal, in addition to an amount being given to Prostate Cancer UK.

Mr Thompson, who was good friends with Mr Beattie, said: “Kevin was always there for me, through good times and bad, and this is my way of repaying him for his friendship.

“He was a legend on the pitch but a hero of mine off it, too, and I want to show how much I appreciated all he did for me.

“Some people have suggested we’re a bit mad for taking this challenge on.

“The journey we’re undertaking is approximately 311 miles, which is daunting as we need to do over a marathon a day - walking for ten days non-stop.

“It’ll be wet, windy and probably snowing then, especially up north in Carlisle.

“And it’s not only the weather that’s a worry. There will also be a limited amount of light at that time of year, with dark mornings and early evenings.

“Some of the roads we have to go on have no paths or even grass verges, so there will be risks involved, despite the scenic views.

“However, both of us were very good friends with the Beat.

“As the statue is being paid for by fans, we want to do our bit so that when we walk past the finished article we’ll know we played a part.

“For us, it’s some comfort for not seeing our dear friend again.

“We can visit the statue and imagine the Beat saying ‘Well done pal’.

“On a personal note, this probably isn’t the best idea as I had to have one of my knees reconstructed many years ago. At the age of 57, I’ll have to slow down sometime soon so why not do something crazy first!

“If the Beat could play through the pain barrier then so can I.”

The pair will be joined by some well-known faces for sections of their walk.

Beattie’s first-ever room-mate, Kenny Sharpe, has vowed to join in, as has Town’s former goalscoring midfielder Tommy Miller.

The pair have had specially-designed wristbands made and one of their main supporters is Sky TV’s Gillette Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling.

“Jeff has even invited us to join him on the last leg of his own charity walk,” added Mr Thompson.

A fundraising campaign called Sore Feet for the Beat has been launched but Mr Thompson is still awaiting a charity number.

In the meantime, anyone keen to donate and pledge their support can contact Thompson on 07743 171773 or via malcolmthompson10@outlook.com

The pair are looking for a main sponsor to help with the cost of food, meals and other expenses along the way.