OVERWHELMING support for the Barefoot Soldier on a 1,200-mile charity trek in the USA is outweighing the criticism he has suffered.

Major Chris Brannigan, who is raising money for research into his daughter Hasti’s rare condition, was depressed by constant “trolling” on social media soon after he set out.

“There are people out there spreading lies and saying that I am a conman and that there is no treatment for Hasti,” said the West Byfleet army officer. “They say they don’t know where the money is going and I must be stealing it.

“Even clinicians and doctors are saying such things, but what other possible motivation could there be for me for walking 700 miles and then 1,200 miles than to raise money for gene therapy.”

Chris is on a 53-day walk without shoes down the east coast of America, from Maine to North Carolina. Last summer, he raised more than £500,000 going barefoot from Land’s End to Edinburgh.

The money he raises supports the development of a treatment for Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS), which nine-year-old Hasti was diagnosed with in 2019.

But backing for Chris’s epic fundraiser is increasing massively, as the online abuse fades away, said his wife, Hengameh, this week.

His walk is being reported by TV and radio stations and newspapers on his route. People are providing a place for him to sleep and many others have stopped to put money in his collection bucket and praise his efforts.

“He is a lot happier, although very tired and still finding it tough,” she told the News & Mail.

Chris’s journey can be followed on Instagram (@hopeforhasti) and on his Facebook page.