This year’s birthday celebrations were a little different than usual for Londoner, Sam Barlow.

Instead of going down the pub with his friends, the 31-year-old decided to trek 60 miles from Oxford to Clapham, passing through High Wycombe, in aid of 28 Too Many, a charity campaigning to end female genital mutilation (FGM).

When Sam first researched the shocking truth about FGM, he felt compelled to act.

He said: “I came across FGM around six months ago and I remember feeling angry and I wanted to do something about it. The more I read about it the more I saw that it is such a cultural thing; it’s been a part of some religions for thousands of years.

“How do you even begin to try and counter something like that? But what was the answer, do nothing? So I decided to do something rather than nothing. I wanted to do this to raise awareness for FGM and the lifelong, devastating effects that come with it.”

According to a recent report by the UK Parliament Home Affairs Select Committee, as many as 66,000 girls aged 13 and under are at risk in the UK.

“The two things I wanted to achieve were raising money and awareness for FGM and doing research into the cultures that still practice FGM to try and end the practice long term.”

Sam hoped that he could raise awareness for the cause among people who had never heard of FGM before.

He said: “Some people are really passionate about campaigning against it, but I think they’re mostly campaigning at people who already know about FGM. Their circles are quite closed. Me, being just an average person, could raise awareness amongst people who aren’t really aware of what FGM is.”

Sam, Head of Sales and Marketing for online box office WeGotTickets, in Oxford, walked from work to his home in Clapham in the hope of raising awareness and money for 28 Too Many.

He said: “I work so far away from where I live and all my family and friends know that. So I thought that would be a good opportunity for me to do something. I bullied myself into walking the 60 miles home from work, the day after my birthday.

“I would have gone out with my friends for drinks on Thursday for my birthday. I asked my friends to donate money to 28 Too Many instead of buying me a pint or a present on my birthday and that got me to about £1,000 before I started the walk.

“I’d spent a couple of lunch breaks obsessing over what new camera I could get for my birthday, or where I would go out for drinks, but then it dawned on me to do something for someone else instead.”

He set off from Oxford city centre at 3pm on December 4 to embark on his gruelling walk home, which took 31 hours overall.

“It was out of this world. I'm not really a sporty type; I don’t go to the gym or go running or jogging. I always knew it would be difficult, but the pain was something else.”

On Monday, Sam still had to walk using a walking stick that he’d picked up three quarters of the way through the journey.

“When I finally got back at 10pm on Friday, I didn’t realise how tired I was. I was advised by some of my sporty friends to put my legs in an ice bath after all of the pain of walking, trying to get into the ice bath was insane, I was shaking and my teeth were chattering.

“I had a warm bath afterwards and I fell asleep in it! I managed to drag myself to bed and I slept until the next day. I would wake up hungry, eat some pasta and go back to sleep again. I was still doing that on Monday!”

Sam admits the lowest point of his journey occurred around the half way mark, in High Wycombe.

He said: “The first quarter was fine. My legs hurt by about mile ten. The whole journey wasn’t easy but the hardest point was mile 30, in High Wycombe.

Mile 28 and 29 were up a really steep hill from High Wycombe into Loudwater. It probably doesn’t look that steep when you’re driving, but it was really tough. That was incredibly hard, probably the hardest part of the whole journey. That was the closest I came to tears. The most crucial part of my journey happened in Loudwater.”

Sam’s family and friends met him at checkpoints every ten miles.

“I really wanted to get to that half way point before I took a five or ten minute rest. My dad had set up his van at the half way point with blankets in the back so I could have a nap.

"I put my head down on the blankets in the back of the van and tried to sleep. I didn’t know if I could carry on after my hour and a half rest. My legs were feeling a whole lot worse afterwards.

“I had my family and friends saying “you’ve already achieved so much, you can stop if you want, you’ve already done so well it doesn’t matter if you stop now” but I knew I had to keep going.

“The thing that kept me going was the thought that, it won’t always hurt this much, no matter how bad it feels now, it will get better eventually. My pain is nothing compared to those who have suffered through FGM.

“The incredible amount of support I got from friends, family and even total strangers along the way also kept me going.

“I met some incredibly supportive people along the way. I was wearing a luminous vest with #SamsWalkHome on it and people were really nice and said I was doing an amazing thing. A lot of people put cash into my hands for it.”

By the end of the walk on Friday night, Sam had raised £2,000 for 28 Too Many. Now, the total stands at £2,557.

Sam said: “It’s been incredible and overwhelming. I spoke on BBC London on Monday and an FGM survivor had seen my walk and wanted to thank me for what I’d done. She said it gave her and her friends who had also suffered FGM hope.

“Having real FGM survivors get in contact and say I have given them hope and comfort was unexpected and really humbling. To be honest with you, that brought me to tears.”

Supporters can still donate by going to Sam’s JustGiving page,