A FORMER Dursley school teacher is taking part in an international peace walk to commemorate the anniversary of the First World War.

John Conway, 60, who retired in 2012 after 25 years as an English teacher and head of department at Rednock School, is set to undertake a 23-day, 550km trek across Europe.

Meeting him after the inaugural European Peace Walk in Trieste will be his wife Helen, 57, a retired community midwife having worked for 25 years in Stroud and in Dursley.

The walk starts in Vienna on July 28 to remember the sacrifices people made during the conflict.

The international trek goes through six European countries, criss-crossing Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia before ending at the Mediterranean Sea in Trieste, Italy.

Mr Conway, from Stroud, is one of the first to undertake the walk, and every day after that for two weeks up to 100 new walkers will leave Vienna as well.

Despite the pair completing a number of challenging walks already, including a 800km hike through Northern Spain, John said the biggest challenge will be the heat as they try and cover 25km a day with 8kg rucksack.

“It is exciting to have been selected as part of the first batch of walkers to be leaving Vienna on day one of this stunning walk,” he said.

“Effectively, we are pioneering the route for others who will follow as it has not been road-tested before.”

The EPW is a cross-border peace initiative set on creating a walkway along the borders of Central Europe to celebrate the present European Culture of Peace.

Open to all, the EPW will become a permanent route for adventurists with accommodation provided along the way.

Following its inaugural year, the EPW hope to open up the route annually and that, in time, it will become a popular destination for hikers globally.

To this end, they have appointed ambassadors in each country. John has been appointed UK ambassador for the EPW.

“There are still places available for setting off in August this year,” he said.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to walk for this peace initiative whilst immersing yourself in the rich culture and scenery of central Europe and meeting people from all over the world.”