Friday, 23 August 2013


Well its been a few days since I arrived back in Porthcawl. Back to reality with a bang :)
I've been more tired sat at my desk in work then I was actually walking around the country.

It still all hasn't really sunk in yet, the enormous amount of support you have all showed Gareth, Tracy and their family on Sunday and throughout the entire challenge still overwhelms them.

The press coverage we've had over the last few days has been superb and I have since taken phonecalls from members of the public both congratulating my efforts but also enquiring more about the disease and how this new South Wales Care Network can benefit hundreds of people in the MND community - which is exactly what I set out to achieve.

Fundraising update - wow.... where do I start !
This whole walk was centered around awareness, making sure people at least knew what MND was and how it affects people like Gareth and his family. The response we had back has completely surpassed all expectations. £5000 was a notional target I set myself.

As at time of writing, this is what you fantastic people out there have helped us to raise so far :-

Online JustGiving Donations = £8810.60
Text Donations = £303
Monies raised offline = £2296.45
Gift Aid Contributions = £1924.04

The monies keep coming in too, unbelievable ! People can still donate, and should :) !

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the following for putting me up in their own homes/arranging accommodation for me and feeding me so well :-

The Allport family
Daisy Silcock 
Mike & Deborah Silcock
Rhian (logistics manager!) & Gareth
Glenda & the Burke Family
Cath Pocock
Carol & Tim Twells
Kaye & Chris Shepherd
Betty & Terry James
Julia Ford-Jones & Family
Phil Morgan
Ian Hearne & Mike at the Pentre Arms
Jonathan Collier & Family
Stuart, Heidi & Abigail Davies
Peter & Derryn Davies 
Winford Davies
Nigel Thomas
Sue Muddleman (The Bay Bistro)
Oh and my wonderful Mum of course.

I also need to acknowledge spin off fundraising which has helped bolster my total figure :-

Richie Robinson (insane hair growth!!)
All at the Esplanade Hotel (drag night)
People of Fairbourne
Welsh Women Walking
Luana, Laura, Liz & all who organised cake sale at Solva !
Astra Ltd
Joanne Thorne, Family & Friends
David McNally
Neil Davis
And everyone who kindly donated raffle/auction prizes.

To all my fellow walkers along the route, thankyou for taking time out to join me.

To those who kindly transported me to my start/end points and those who relieved me of my rucksack occasionally.

To everyone who has sponsored me and donated online etc - thankyou very much indeed.

To Nick Allport for the walk4mnd website and Rhyd Cole for the awesome logos he designed.
And of course, thankyou to all the Welsh local MNDA branches, who helped gather support, organise events and logistically ensured I was kept on track !

To thank everyone who has contributed, and supported me over the last 38 days will take a shed load of hours & typing !! Over the course of the next week or so, I will aim to contact you all directly to personally thank you. 

Of course, it would be wrong not to thank my gorgeous family ! Thankyou for your eternal support. I won't be leaving you for that long again!

I've said it before but I'll say it again........ what started off as a personal, solo, crazy idea to walk around the perimeter of Wales to try and spread the word a little, has morphed into a huge event. A journey which you have all embraced and embarked upon with me. I wouldn't have got through all of this without your assistance, generosity and motivation.

I've got lost (a few times.............), I've been harrassed by various animals (a few times........), I've danced with a Drag Queen (thankfully only the once !), I've humiliated myself in public (a few times..........), I've met fantastic people along the way, I've visited some awesome places and seen some spectacular scenery. But much more important than all that, I've been able to get through to a vast audience and in some small way educate them a little on the disease. That was my goal.

We've appeared in every local newspaper around the Welsh coast, Daily Telegraph Online, on BBC Radio Wales & BBC Radio2, BridgeFM, WaveRadio, RealRadio, Western Mail, SW Echo, SW Evening Post, Seaside News, Glamorgan Gazette, The Gem and even had a cheeky little shout-out on Sky Sports 1 ! The Facebook pages have been well attended and approx 400 twitter followers have followed the progress.
Still waiting for the TV networks to hook into this in some way, I'll keep trying.

So where now ? This is just the start, awareness needs to be continual. This needs to become viral. We've started something good here, as a community we should easily be able to reach out further people. I have a few ideas up my sleeve and will sit down with Gareth & Tracy to discuss.

I'll do anything, go anywhere for this wonderful family, so if you know of anything, have any ideas let me know :) Corporate Sponsorship is always welcomed too..............................

I would just ask you all to please continue fighting this cause for them, hope is a powerful force.

Once again - thankyou very much indeed.

I'm off to soak my feet - I've got the Great North Run in 3 weeks !!

Sunday, 18 August 2013


I don't really know where to start mate. I'm lying in bed absolutely exhausted and trying to comprehend what has just happened ! 

Today has been the most overwhelming day imaginable. 

On Thursday 11th July, I started the journey to North Wales, not understanding the task that was ahead of me. Naivety and sheer stubbornness didn't allow me to truly grasp the nature of what I was about to undertake. 

What started as a vision to raise as much awareness as I possibly could for this devastating disease, has turned into an epic journey of highs and lows ;)

One clear objective ! - Get as many people as I could to sit up and take notice. To get people to realise the impact that MND has on both sufferers and their loved ones.

I have been inundated with text messages, FB posts, tweets, emails and phone calls throughout the last 38 days - the motivation, continual support and unwavering generosity has spurred me on each day. Motivating myself each morning to get up and do another 20 mile day was never really a problem because of the reasons behind the walk, but to know we've had the support of so many people has been truly humbling.

I got to Kenfig Nature Reserve today and there were approx 130-150 people waiting to walk with me into Porthcawl. 

They even shipped in Boris for my last day :)

I then got to Rest Bay - and OMG - was seriously not expecting that. Another 150 or so people there to welcome in the walkers. Speechless and absolutely gobsmacked. 

(Welcoming party included legends JPR Williams, Phil Bennett, MP Madelene Moon, Mayor & Mayoress of Porthcawl and the Rotary Club of Porthcawl)

(Brynteg reunited for a common cause)

It'll take a while for all this to sink in. 
I apologise to those I was unable to personally thank today, I really appreciate everyone's attendance. It simply proved that the awareness had worked.

I feel immense pride at the moment, im proud because I'm lucky enough to know a lot of very good people. People who were willing to participate and collaborate, people who wanted to show you that they care and empathise with your situation. It's not just about the hundreds who turned out today, it's about the many more hundreds of people we've touched on this journey. 

Friends, old & new have been onboard from day one. Everyone I have spoken to along the way have sent you their sincere best wishes.

It's easy for me to tell people what kind of guy you are. Those who haven't met you, admire you and your bravery. Those who do know you, know the fighter you are and admire your continued tenacity.

I've had a lot of people congratulate me today. I simply walked. I'll take the satisfaction of having raised over £11000 and ill certainly be happy with the amount of awareness we have raised, but I find it hard to take the congratulations personally. 

This wasn't a solo effort, without everyone donating money and without everyone sharing posts, forwarding on mails and assisting with publicity - the walk would've been a failure. My legs would be in bits for nothing ;) So the congratulations should go to you all.

I, and I know you do too Gar, would sincerely like to thank EVERYONE who has :-

- donated online, via text, personally 
- offered accommodation and hospitality
- conducted spin-off fundraising events
- organised the homecoming
- accompanied me along the route 
- sent us best wishes along the way

Oh and to those who have bothered to read this little blog............

I didn't get to throw my boots into the sea, the tide was out and it was too far to walk! But trust me, they will never see the light of day again........

It's been great updating you Gar, via this blog. No doubt you've sat there laughing at my misfortune and hideous outfits at times ! 

I may have embarrassed myself completely throughout this challenge, I may even have gone slightly insane at times, I've definitely got lost once or twice ;) BUT not for a single second would I ever regret any of it.

Over the next few days, reality will kick in, and I'll be able reflect on it all. Ill read this all back and reminisce on the experiences I had and the wonderful people I met along the way.

Message to MND - We came and we kicked your a55. We'll continue to come and we'll continue to kick your a55!!!

I told you earlier, I'd never do that again. But I would, if you asked me to start again tomorrow I would (I may need to take JPR with me to sort my legs out) but i wouldn't hesitate. I'd need new boots though !!

The last 38 days has been about one person. YOU (and your family) are the reason why so many people have been touched by this. You are the inspiration behind my craziness.

There's a saying - 'I'd walk to the end of the earth for you' - you know what, I might just do that one day ............

Thank you all for following me each day, the hope is that this can inspire you to do something (however small or large) to help free the world of MND and give great people like Gareth the hope they so desperately need. 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Day 37 - Final Lap

August 17th - the last 'proper' day of walking has arrived. 
I've been waiting for tonight ever since I took the first step on July 12th up in Prestatyn. Feels like a lifetime ago now though. 

It's a strange feeling at the moment mate, all the organisation, all the hype, all the glorious moans & groans - it's all moreorless done now. In little over 12 hours, our journey to raise as much awareness as we can will come to an end. Have we achieved my objective ? Oh, I think so ! 

But I still had to manoeuvre my way through the mammoth Mumbles to Margam leg!

A great group of us today !! 

It was dry (to start with), the general mood was a buoyant one, the final hurdle  before the finishing straight was upon us and everyone was eager to conquer !

(I even found time to fit some extra circular activity in along the early route)

We met some strange characters though along the way.......

Having rode our luck with the weather for a good 3 hours, as predicted the heavens opened up - a nice parting gift from the big man in the sky !!!

It may have soaked us through but it certainly didn't dampen our spirits !! 

After a nice stop along Aberavon beach for lunch, we met up with Christine and Kevin from SWP and we were soon back on our way to tackle the last half of the day. 

When I say lunch mate, I obviously meant a liquid one for me ! My oath of having a drink to toast you at every town/village I stopped at has remained true throughout. 

The remainder of route took us away from the beaches and into the metropolis that is Port Talbot !

(Not sure what that bloke, bottom right, is doing !!!) oooohhh and check out my new poncho ;) !

I've come across a few 'dangerous moments' along my challenge but walking past 10/12 yr old kids smoking cigarettes in a back alley of Taibach is up there with them all !! Their mothers must have been proud !!!!

So not the most glamorous of surroundings but we did eventually make it to Margam ! A lot wetter, a lot more weary and a hell of lot more satisfied than when we stated off this morning!

I'd like to thank all my fellow walkerstoday who helped turn a miserably wet afternoon into a pleasurable ramble ;)

I'd also like to thank Heidi & Stu for their wonderful hospitality, very much appreciated both and also to all the 'crew' who were at the finish to greet us back tonight. 

I think I've rounded off most of my blogs by saying I'm tired etc but after today I really do feel like its coming to an end - and that is welcomed news to my feet, knees and back !

It's gonna be strange setting off tomorrow, I have a little 3 mile stroll from
Margam to Kenfig to meet up with a few other walkers ;) and then the final 3 miles into the aptly named Rest Bay!

I know you may not be able to make it mate, but at some point tomorrow ill catch up with you !

It's been a long journey, tomorrow my little stint will end. But the fight to raise awareness and funds for MND needs to keep going on. I won't stop fighting this b@stard with you and we've recruited many new soldiers mate - this battle may be drawing to a close, but the war is still there to be won.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Day 36 - Scenic steps home........

Well, after a massive 9 hour sleep last night (probably the most I've had on the whole challenge!), I headed for the Mumbles. A night of rain and winds soon departed and thankfully left us with a glorious summers day!!
Walking with me today was Nathan.

(As you can see I soon taught him the secret a successful walk -  alcohol !)

Nathan is the brother of Jo, a colleague who walked with us last Sat. Unfortunately their father was also diagnosed with MND this year.

We made steady progress from the off and were lucky enough to see some fantastic views !!

It wasn't all nice sandy beaches though ;) We clambered up a few cliffs, through some harsh terrain and also had the now customary momentary loss of direction whilst in a farmers field !

I think today was one of, if not the most scenic days I've had. Oxwich Bay, Three Cliffs Bay and Caswell Bay being the pick!

The most gratifying sight was when we came over Mumbles Head, in the far distance I could see home !!! I've been waiting for today - because it's real now - I am inches from my own bed ;)

We were welcomed into the finish by members of the Mumbles Rotary Club, members of local MNDA branch (Jill, Sheila & Lesley) and Jo & Mike (from Sat!).

Well mate - that's nearly it ! One more long day tomorrow and then the finish. Not quite sinking in yet, obviously my legs/feet are feeling it but once I've got tomorrow out of the way, then I know the 'walking' will be over and I can enjoy the small run in Sunday (obviously not literally 'run' !!)

We've done fantastic mate. We've smashed the initial £5k target, we're gonna smash the £10k target too ! 
(Keep donating and sharing peeps !! - all money raised is going to greatly assist local people here in South Wales !)

Awareness-wise, we've opened a few people's eyes and changed quite a few mindsets.

Thankfully for you, there's not too more many of these to read either ;) 

Tonight, I'm at one of the worlds best hotels !! - my mothers ! Didn't want to go home until the challenge is completed but did get to see K and the children again :) 

Catch you soon now mate! 

Day 35 - Inches from home now..

Apologies for late update, no wifi last night ;( 

Thurs Aug 15th:-
Absolutely exhausted today mate.
Not sure whether that's because I've been walking for 35 days or it's the result of Kirsten bending my ear for 2 full days ;) (that's a joke, dear wife !!)

But i am definitely feeling the strain, it's bonkers to think I've been doing this for over a month now. May have a bout of 'ForestGumpitis' ..............

After a good night sleep and a heartily cooked breakfast, I set off early from Bynea and headed to Rhossili. 
Again, with the luxury of not having to lug my rucksack around with me (thankyou Julia!).

The photo above was what I saw at the start, I was on one side of the estuary and needed to get across to other side !! If only I could've waded across it !! 
At one point, walking through Lougher I passed a sign that said Welcome to the County of Swansea, yet I still had a 2 day detour around the Gower to endure before actually going through Swansea - bl00dy tease!

This was the only part of the coastal path I have actually walked before (my one and only real training walk a few months ago!) So I knew what to expect and knew the terrain etc. The weather forecast wasn't ideal but it ended up being much better than expected - only light intermittent showers. 

I think we're in unprecedented territory too - i didn't get lost - 2nd day on the trot ;), typical - the walk is ending and I'm getting better navigationally !

Although, truth be told, I did take a wrong turning into a wrong field at one point ;) But a captive audience of sheep soon put me back on the right path!

The terrain was generally good, a few marshlands and some dunes to tackle, mixed in with a few familiar undulations! (But it has been flat last few days, so it was good to impersonate Edmund Hilary again)

Today I also had the pleasure of walking across Rhossili Bay ! What a "peach of a beach" 

In the distance on top of walkway (second pic) are my hosts for the evening - a fantastic cafe/restaurant/family run business - The Bay Bistro. Some stunning views overlooking the beach - would highly recommend paying this place a visit ! Owner Sue, kindly offered me accommodation and has looked after me very well. 

In fact Gar, all throughout this walk, loads of different people have been extremely generous in putting me up in their own homes, have paid for hotels and fed (over fed) me - it would have been a lot more challenging had I not been spoilt rotten by these kind folks.

Having arrived at Rhossili, I happened to bump into a 'fan of the walk' ! Welsh Football Manager Chris Coleman !

(We obviously share an affinity with pink shirts)

He nagged & nagged for my photo, so I reluctantly obliged ;). He asked about the walk and was genuinely interested in the reasons behind it etc. I didn't have the heart to ask him to buy me a pint as well ...........

Tonight I'm gonna try and get at least 10 hours kip in ! Long 2 days of walking before Sunday - one last push to the finish.

Tell your dad I'll pay him to walk through Swansea with me on Saturday, if he wears his Cardiff City shirt ;) - actually don't because he probably would !!!!!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Day 34 - Wet but still smiling (just!)

After yesterday's tremendous coverage in the Daily Telegraph (link at end of blog) - I'm writing tonight's blog after hearing about the walk and our fight being broadcast live on Sky Sports !! After the Wales v Rep. Ireland game !!! (John-Paul you are an absolute gent, very much appreciated mate!!!).

Right, last 2 days mate have been a complete navigational nightmare ! Today, I can proudly announce - I DID NOT GET LOST !!!

But the joyous celebration stops there! 
Because it bl00dy chucked it down with rain for a good 4 hours of our walk today !! Not only rain, but walking along Cefn Sidal beach it was blowing a gale !

My fellow walkers today included the wife (who came back for more after yesterday's shambles!), Kaye (my wonderful host last night) and Ann (a work colleague of mine).

Now remember, Kirsten wasn't happy she didn't get to see a beach yesterday! Today, she walked across a beautiful one but STILL didn't get to see it - because her umbrella was permanently up ;) 

Right, so, picture this Gar, I have to walk 12/13 miles with 3 ladies who like to chatter ! - boy was I grateful for the umbrella ;)!! With the howling wind, I simply pretended not be able to hear them !

(Chatter, chatter, chatter, gossip, gossip)

I tried losing them in the wind at one point ;) 

At one point, I thought someone was taking the p*55, a crossroads in the middle of a beach !!??

In truth, they were great company and despite the abhorrent weather conditions, we kept our spirits high. 

(Took me 10 mins to get out of that deck chair !!)

Huge thanks to Pat & Clive for the excellent timing on the coffee interlude !!

Also, I promised not to mention the "lady toilet stops" along the route - so I won't ;)

We eventually reached Burry Port where, regardless of all the weather I had endured, my spirits were instantly lifted - my rugrats were here !!!!

(Awesome seeing these little gems again!) 

Within 10 minutes of the children walking with us, Lucas proclaimed he was bored and tired (Like father, like son !!)

We had now entered proper 'Turk' land ! Llanelli - land of the sospan !

Having reached our final destination for the day, I got to meet up with Glyn Jones, president of South West Wales MNDA branch.

(You can see, by this point Lucas had simply been work out by his 2 mile hike !)

I then got picked up by my friend Julia, who introduced me to her wonderful parents Dave & Jan. Again, I was spoilt rotten and am currently writing this blog overlooking Machynys Bay from my bed ! Awesome house, lovely meal out and great hospitality.
Huge thanks Julia, for arranging this, your parents are fantastic hosts!

I have a huge 3 days coming up, 2 x 24 mile days and a mammoth 27 miler on Saturday. But we've already hit the £9000 mark mate - so it's all worth the pain and my constant moaning :)

I'm sure I've kept Compeed and Lucozade in business these past 5 weeks ! Edging closer to the finish line.........

Massive thanks to:-  
• Mrs H-D for accompanying me last 2 days, sorry about the scenery & weather !
• Mrs Peploe, for transporting my backpack and your continued support 
• Dave and Jan for a lovely meal and hospitality
• Julia - for arranging it all tonight 
• Kaye and Chris, again for last night and the warm welcome
• Sarah, for the ciders and Haribo (my stable diet !!)  ;)

Link to article :-

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Day 33 - Long (very long) road ahead

Firstly today mate, an old school friend of ours Paul Carey has published your story on the Daily Telegraph website !!

This is huge awareness for us. Many thanks Paul, a great article and very much appreciated.

Right, after yesterday's debacle over directions :) surely today was going to be straightforward ???? - ummmmm NO !

My partner in crime today, Mrs HD !
(You won't see many photos on the blog tonight mate, she threatened me!)

All started swimmingly. Off we set Kidwelly-bound, with a lot to catch up on etc. 

Now what Kirsten doesn't understand is that after 33 days of walking the last thing you want to be doing whilst struggling up an incline is to chat ;) Didn't stop her though of course, she simply nattered her way through whilst all I could manage were hand signals (imitating a zip across the mouth !!!!!!) :)

In fact, as payback ill post another picture of her :-

(This was shortly after seeing a sheeps carcass being devoured by a fox !!)

After a couple of hours of walking through fields and lanes (déjà vu from yesterday !!), we finally came to a crossroads. The worst thing that could've happened !!! 
I said go one way, the wife said go the other.
Obviously we choose the wrong option. That wrong option was obviously MY option ;)

2 hours later we were walking up the A484 trying to avoid being mowed down by lorries and fuel tankers !!

(This is another reason why the photos are scarce in this blog !!!)

After a couple of hours of walking single-file, and in silence, up the road we somehow miraculously ended up in Kidwelly ! I could sense the anger in her ;)

We had completely bypassed a few villages and ended up off the map altogether at one point (this is becoming a habit now.......).

Luckily though this meant we had the opportunity to meet up with Jan & Dave Jones, with whom I had previously caught up with in Cwm-yr-Eglys.

(Lovely to see you again guys !!)

After a little tour around the castle, we were then met by our hosts for the evening Chris & Kaye Shepherd (Sarah's wonderful parents). 

We were treated to a fabulous BBQ and had a great time wining and dining with their fantastic neighbours (Clive & Pat, Rob & Alison) - some hilarious stories ! (Dont worry Sarah, none about your childhood ;)

So other than the actual walking part of today, we've had a great time !

Kirsten was expecting idyllic coastal offerings and a nice stroll through the Welsh countryside, all i could muster up today were exhaust fumes and dead sheep !! Hopefully tomorrow will go incident-free (but somehow I very much doubt it).

Surely, the last 4 days will be straightforward ??

Hope Tracy has stopped whinging about her black toes too mate ??

Catch up with you tomorrow.