People of Penwortham get moving, Pax the Panda needs you!
Can you help Pax the panda get home to his girlfriend Penny, 14,000 miles away?
The love-struck duo have been separated because Pax is stuck in Penwortham, Adelaide, unable to travel due to Covid restrictions.
The only way to get him back to Penwortham, near Preston, is for townsfolk to collectively rack up 14,000 miles by walking, running or cycling in a virtual fundraising event.
The wacky initiative has been dreamt up by members of Penwortham Run Fest, who wanted to give people something to look forward to after a year of restrictions, as well as raising funds for four local charities.
A spokesman for the group said: "This is not just about fitness and the miles, it's about community spirit and helping people.
"Pax and Panda are two characters we thought people would like, and we chose the distance by Googling interesting things about Penwortham and seeing Penwortham in Australia."
The group have been approached by the Penwortham Plodders and Team Roar, a local fitness group, to take on the challenge, and hope to spread the message into local schools as well as branch out - when allowed - into creating new walking groups.
They also hope to run focused events throughout the year, where they help support local businesses. For instance by running special events, raffles and promotions with Penwortham hairdressers on National Hairdresser Day.
They hope to have achieved the mileage total by September, when they plan to reunite Pax and Penny in Hurst Grange Park, Penwortham.
To keep people interested, they also want to have Penny appear at random in places such as Hurst Grange, and post her whereabouts on social media, to encourage people to visit her. This is all dependent on restrictions being lifted.
Pax's first mission is to reach Mount Gambia which is 567km then he will be heading towards Melborne.
The spokesman added: "We've spent a lot of time plotting the route, avoiding war zones!"
The charities being supported are NF1 Army, the Baby Beat Appeal at Sharoe Green Maternity Unit, mental health charity Lancashire Mind and St Catherine's Hospice.
Each charity has a local link, with NF1 Army set up by Penwortham woman Krista Bradley, whose daughter Jessica has the condition Neurofibromatosis Type 1, a genetic condition that causes tumours to grow along your nerves.
They fundraise for Manchester Children's Hospital, where Jessica is treated.
To sign up and register to take part in the Panda initiative, click here
Alternatively, email [email protected] or find the group on social media by searching for Penwortham Run Fest.