For those of you who saw last week’s article about So, Sally Can Wait (Read it here), you will have read about the heartbreaking story of a woman who desperately needs funding for life-saving cancer treatment.
As part of the fundraising effort, which has been by all accounts, inspiring, there has been an epic journey, a walk of 500 miles from John O’Groats right back to Silsden! To tell us a bit more about this journey, we asked Craig Reynolds, one of the chief walkers, to give us his account of their journey!
They also took several films along the way which are also included in this article… Over to Craig!
By Craig Reynolds
Myself and Alistair made the long drive up to John O’Groats on Thursday 19th, excited by the challenge ahead and hopeful for what it might achieve. With every mile by motor it became increasingly apparent that what we were taking on would be no mean feat. We arrived around midnight and spent the nights sleeping in the van.
Legs 1 – 10
With fresh feet and adrenaline pumping, we got through the first 10 miles with ease. The second 10 were covered by Chris Milla, after which came our longest stint alone. 70 miles to go, one driving, one walking. At night, the roads were pitch black and the air was bitterly cold, but we persevered under star filled skies. Around 1 on Saturday morning we were enshrouded by an eerie mist and, due to poor visibility, were forced to stop for a few hours. This put us behind schedule so we did a couple of legs on the bike to catch up. We handed over to Gillian and Jim for leg 10.
Gillian and Jim took on an extra 2 legs, cycling a total of 30 miles. This gave me and Alistair time to source a free shower at Inverness Leisure Centre and tend to some blisters. The next three legs were to be covered by mountain rescue member Ron, and his girlfriend Dawn. We used this time to get the collection buckets out in Fort Augustus where we were met with warmth and generosity. With Ron and Dawn finished (Ron having pulled a hamstring up a mountain) we set about the next 30 miles. Not so many stars this time, but plenty of eyes, glistening from the darkness,s in the beams of our headlamps.
Another shower gifted in Fort William and we finished the final 20 miles of a 50mile stint.
We headed through Glencoe with emotions running high as we marched on teary eyed, flag held high. We handed over to Davie and Bonnie who did the next 10 miles, and then, relief. Russ, Rob and Steph arrived to bolster our core team. Russ and Rob smashed 30 miles on the bikes, giving us a bit of down time in a layby. In the morning, Russ hammered out another 10 miles on the bike, bringing us to the halfway point of our journey. Rob and Steph ran 10 before me and Alistair walked the next 10, the first time we had walked together since we started, some 260 miles ago. Rob and Russ took on another 30 on the bikes and we arrived in Queensferry in good time.
The day began with Rob and Steph running another 10 miles. This was to be their last involvement until the final leg. Their run brought us to Edinburgh Zoo where they handed the flag to Debbie and Andy. 10 more miles down and over to Brian (Alistair’s brother) and Alistair himself. This leg saw the 2 brothers walk through their childhood town where they received a fantastic welcome from family and friends. Russ took on another 15 miles on the bike before handing over to Alistair and myself for the next 15. Andrew was next and he walked and impressively quick 10 miles. During these 10 Alistair, myself and Russ were given a free Morrisons breakfast, 2 large bags of drinks and food, and £50 towards Sally’s fund by the wonderful Chris Monaghan. The flag was then passed to Linda, Amy and Fordy, followed by Debbie and Andy for their second stint. The 40th mile was tackled by Gavin who cycled 10 miles in 40minutes, during which he crossed the border. Our time in Scotland was at an end.
Time in England got off to a cold start as we passed through Carlisle. At 5 am we were met by Bridget S who cycled 10 miles in the dark and handed over to Gemma and Michelle. They brought us through Penrith to pass on to Debbie T. The wind picked up but it would not defeat our volunteer. Debbie handed over to Paul who ran a leg in 1hr 30 minutes. Bridget, Jen, Lindsay and Ross joined us for the next leg, weaving through pitch black country lanes to finish in Kirby Lonsdale. Back to Russ for another 10 on the bike before Keith took on the next 10, again on the bike. 2 legs to go!!! The penultimate leg was walked, in the pouring rain, by Chris, Ian, Jess and myself. We arrived in Gargrave, very wet but not disheartened.
Over 20 people gathered by the canal to embark on the last leg of this challenge. We walked with pride, we walked with determination. We slipped and slid and a few fell over (it was horrendously muddy).
A quick pit stop in Skipton, with buckets in hand, and back on the canal. With each step closer to Silsden came a sense of pride and achievement. But, far more importantly, a sense of togetherness. There’s a unity which has been called upon time and time again since Sally’s diagnosis, it will be called upon ever increasingly in the coming months. It will not falter, it will stay strong and true. The reception at the Punch Bowl demonstrated this.
500 miles done and dusted, but was it worth it? Well, we haven’t raised enough money for all of Sally’s treatments, nowhere near, but I think we’ll have achieved 5 figures by the time all the pennies are counted. One thing I hope we’ve done is help to raise the awareness of Sally’s story, that is ultimately how we will save her.
Since our return, we’ve had the news from Germany that early tests show the treatments are working!!!!! These include chemotherapy, immunotherapy antibody and vaccines. 2 weeks ago, oncologist in England had told Sally her body could no longer take chemotherapy, and that she should arrange for Palliative care
So, it is simply a matter of money. We estimate it will cost £36,313 per month for the next 3-6 months to get Sal the treatment that could save her life. We don’t have it. If you can please help us. We’re desperate, we’re begging, but we still have hope.