18. Kingston to Cambridge without a Camel

by Graham Kings

Date added: 26/03/2024

On Sunday morning 30 June, as the first event in the 2024 Summer Institute of the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide, I will be leading an eight mile from the village of Kingston, west of Cambridge, to Selwyn College, Cambridge.

We will gather at All Saints Church, Kingston CB23 3NG, at 9.30am ready to leave at 10.00am and arrive at Selwyn in time for brunch at 1.00pm.

The co-leader of this walk will be Faith Galgalo, a 25-year-old civil servant in Nairobi, Kenya, whose father, Joseph Galgalo, co-led our ‘Oxford to Cambridge with a Camel’ walk with me in 1999, 25 years ago. We raised £50,000 for camel-based nomad schools in northern Kenya, where Joseph grew up and was a primary school teacher at Bubisa.

ITV and BBC covered the event and a 6-minute film, edited by the Church Mission Society (CMS, founded in 1799), was broadcast on YouTube.

In 1999, we walked with 22 others, including 12 Americans, and 5 Kenyans, for six days and were joined by many others each day. The last day was from Kingston to Cambridge with over 100 people. Hertford College, Oxford (my undergraduate college) and Selwyn (the college for the postgraduate studies of Joseph and me) sponsored the walk with accommodation and a feast. Churches in Aylesbury and Bedford provided for us en route. Cleo, the camel, came from Amazing Animals, north of Oxford.

The Master of Selwyn, Sir David Harrison, welcomed Cleo into the College on Sunday 27 June 1999 and Selwyn’s Christmas Card that year had a photo of Cleo processing around Old Court.

Then the procession continued into the back gate of King’s College, to the jumbo arch of the Gibbs Building, above which lived Charles Simeon, vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge for 54 years. Rich man – ‘eye of a needle’. He was a benefactor who co-founded CMS in 1799. There, the Vice Chancellor of the University, the Provost of King’s College, the Master of St John’s College, the Bishop of Ely and the President of CMS, welcomed Cleo to walk through the eye of the needle and then into the great west door of Great St Mary’s, the University Church, for a camel service of thanksgiving.

The next day, the Chancellor, Prince Philip, and Desmond Tutu, met Cleo and the walkers at the Veterinary School. Tutu asked me if I would do it again. I replied, ‘Jesus said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first”. It is the first time we’ve done this, and it will be the last.’

25 years later, we are raising money to go towards food to allow the children to remain in Bubisa school. The fund in the Anglican Church of Kenya is administered by Anglican Development Services. For four years up to 2023, there was a devastating drought in northern Kenya. Currently a group of families at Bubisa who had 95 camels now only have 2 camels.

In 2023, Damian Arnold, Register editor ofThe Times, who is coming on the walk, visited Joseph and wrote about him and the devastating famine, ’23 million are on the brink of starvation in Kenya’, in both The Times and the Church Times.

The walk is free, the brunch at Selwyn College costs £13, and we hope that people will also donate to the fund for Bubisa School in northern Kenya.

Registration for the walk and for the brunch is through the Selwyn College web site: please click here.

Donations to the fund for Bubisa School may be given through the CCCW donation web site, Stewardship: please click herethen click ‘give as a guest’ and in the ‘message of support’ box type, ‘For Bubisa School, Kenya’.

Donations may be made from anywhere in the world and the donors do not need to come on the walk.

So, please do consider supporting us – in person on the walk, through donations, through prayer, through following us on X (@CambridgeCamel) and through forwarding this article to friends who may be interested. Many thanks indeed.


Graham Kings

Graham Kings


Wood panel

Wood panel

A bronze