A restaurant owner was joined by Dame Joanna Lumley as he began a charity challenge which will see him walk 3,000 miles through every London Borough.
Sujan Katuwal, who owns Panas Gurkha in Lewisham, south-east London, began his walk from the Embassy of Nepal, in west London, in support of Combat Stress, a charitable organisation dedicated to assisting Armed Forces and veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The 48-year-old who is a “proud Nepali” told the PA news agency: “The relationship between Gurkhas, Nepal and Britain has been going on for over 200 years.
“Coming from a Gurkha background, I want to give back to the Army for what they do day-to-day as because of them we are safe in London.
“Veterans often go through anxiety and depression, so to be part of this challenge to support them – it’s a joy.”
Mr Katuwal is to cover a mile for each veteran seeking help for PTSD in 2024, with the aim of completing half a marathon a day over 200 days, which equates to 3,000 miles.
He said he hopes to spread mental health awareness through the challenge.
“It’s not only those who are part of Combat Stress who are facing mental health issues, it affects people on an everyday basis,” he said.
The restaurant owner has been planning the walk for six months and is to pass and visit famous London landmarks including the House of Lords.
He also hopes to showcase Nepalese culture by taking the flag of Nepal with him.
“Nepal is a beautiful country and if I can promote a bit of tourism there, that would be an honour,” he said.
Dame Joanna joined Mr Katuwal ahead of the first mile. He said: “She has changed my life, and she is a very important person in my life.”
The two previously met when the restaurant owner delivered more than 100,000 hot meals to key workers and vulnerable members of society during the pandemic.
Dame Joanna told PA: “During the pandemic, Sujan set up (charity) Panas Helping Hands and I became a very proud patron of that and observed the extraordinary effect he was having on communities and his extremely Nepali sense of kindness and good humour and optimism, which has been infectious.
“I’ve watched him and admired him in everything that he has been doing, but this latest challenge is great because he is walking around London, which is his home, and at the same time he’ll be supporting so many good causes.
“I just think it’s completely thrilling.”
She said it feels it is “exciting” to be at the start of the challenge with Mr Katuwal.
“Every journey starts with a single step and he’s showing that no matter how impossibly sad the world may seem, how huge the problems may be – start, attack them,” she said.
“It’s a very Nepalese thing to do in the land of great mountains.”
Mr Katuwal’s fundraising page can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/sujan-katuwals-3000-mile-challenge