|Singing Sensation Lauren Joins Mayor's Wonder Walk
Oldham Bound: Mayor of Wigan Cllr John Hilton studies the route of his sponsored walk with Wigan singing star Lauren Waterworth.
Mayor of Wigan Cllr John Hilton will be in good company this weekend when he sets out on an historic sponsored walk. The mayor will be striding out on a 28-mile trek from his birthplace in Oldham to his adopted home of Wigan to raise money for his charity appeal.
And keeping him company along the way will be Wigan's own teenage singing sensation Lauren Waterworth.
Chart star Lauren has been in training for the walk since meeting the Mayor at social engagement recently.
"I was invited to a fashion show in Wigan and was lucky enough to sit next to the Mayor," said 16-year-old Lauren. "We started to talk about his charity and I knew I just had to do something to help. It 's a long way but I walk to keep fit anyway so I am really looking forward to it."
Cllr Hilton's walk on Saturday holds a special poignant significance for him.
The 64-year-old Mayor had a less than auspicious start when in 1940, at just two-days-old, he was found abandoned and desperately ill on Oldham Mumps Railway Station.
It took three years for the infant to make a full recovery and after this he found a new home in Wigan with adopted parents railway guard George Hilton and wife Elizabeth.
The fairytale-like story that saw Cllr Hilton rise from foundling to first citizen has captured the imagination of many and left the man himself with a strong desire to help the youngest, most vulnerable residents of Wigan Borough.
And on Saturday the mayor will confirm this commitment by walking the 28-miles from the place he was found back to Wigan Town Hall.
The mayor is hoping the walk will raise as much money as possible for his mayoral charity, which aims to provide Wigan Infirmary's Neonatal Unit with a new ventilator to help premature babies get the best start in life. Cllr Hilton said:
"This will be a great challenge and hopefully a fitting climax to my fundraising campaign."
"There will be about 30 people walking with me who have all helped to collect sponsorships."
"We've all been in training and I've regularly walked around Aspull, most recently completing 14 miles, which seemed fine."
"It's great to have Lauren along and supporting the charity. I'm sure she'll keep all our spirits during the long walk."
Lauren, who is managed by star maker Pete Waterman, has already enjoyed popular success and has been compared to Welsh diva Charlotte Church.
Her debut album Beyond Her Years reached number 12 in the classical music charts.
Lauren's next single, which will be out in June, will see her change direction with a 'dance-up' cover version of Olivia Newton John's 1978 hit Xanadu.
Lauren, who is currently studying for her GCSEs, said:
"This is a really exciting time for me and I am really looking forward to the next single."
"But for now I'm concentrating on Saturday's walk. It should be a great day and I just hope we can raise as much money as possible for the cause."
After setting out from Oldham Mumps, the mayor's first port of call will be to Oldham Town Hall, where he will be met and cheered on by Mayor of Oldham Cllr Abdul Jabbar.
The route will then follow the A699 through Prestwich and Middleton where he will be met by the Mayor of Bury, Cllr Barry Briggs.
The team will then call by Greater Manchester Service HQ in Swinton before heading onto Salford Civic Centre where they will be greeted by Mayor of Salford Cllr Stan Witowski. From there Cllr Hilton will head back to Wigan. He said:
"We've received tremendous support so far and would welcome all donations from people who want to help and we have been supported by local businesses."
"We are expecting to complete the walk in about nine hours. The bad news is it is 28 miles, the good news is that most of it's downhill!"
The Mayor would like to thank Arriva Vehicle Leasing, PD Signs of Wigan, Asda Distribution of Goose Green and Waterfields Bakery for supporting the sponsored walk.
For more information on how to support the Mayor's Charity contact Mayoral Secretary Christine Charnock-Jones on 01942 827156.