A Blantyre man will walk 500 miles – and then 1000 more – in a bid to boost funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Devoted son Peter Skelly, (47) celebrated this New Year under a chilly canvas in France as he continues his gruelling 1500 mile walk from St Andrews to Rome.
Peter set off in October and expects to reach his destination by the beginning of March 2015. During his mammoth walk, he will be spurred on by thoughts of his mum Anne, (71), who has been living with Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years.
Travelling alone, once Peter reaches Canterbury, in Kent, he will follow an ancient trail to Rome, known as the Via Francigena. This route stretches through France and Switzerland and onwards to Italy, leading Peter through medieval towns, charming villages and the snow clad Alps.
Peter, a telecoms software engineer, said: “I’m several weeks into the walk already and have met some amazing people along the way. Everyone is wondering why I’ve chosen the coldest time of year to take on the journey but the truth is I didn’t want to put it off any longer.
“There are so many people like my mum living with Alzheimer’s and I’m determined to raise as much money as possible to help the experts, Alzheimer’s Research UK, find the treatments so urgently needed. I’m also raising money for the support services my mum enjoys provided by the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland.
“Mum has only recently received the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s but on reflection my dad (Peter) and I realise it’s been creeping on for a number of years.
“It’s very difficult trying to come to terms with mum’s illness and I’m pleased this walk is giving me an opportunity to do something positive by raising money.”
Peter is travelling light taking only a handful of clothes, a tent and a few essentials to keep him going along the way. He spent New Year’s day in his tent in France.
He continued: “I’m travelling light and working to a tight budget but will have to go to the expense of getting my walking boots resoled before I leave the UK shores. My New Year’s day meal under canvas, hopefully in France, will be a frugal affair, cooked in a billy can over my camping stove.”
When Peter reaches Rome he will collect a bike that he left there on a previous trip five years ago. He explained: “Five years ago I had to cut short a planned round the world trip as I was unwell and I left my bike in Rome. At that point I’ll have to decide whether to extend my journey on two wheels or turn round and cycle home.
“Mum’s illness has made me realise that you have to appreciate the small things in life and follow your dreams rather than put them off.”
Jodie Vaughan, Community Fundraising Manager for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This is an amazing challenge and we are hugely grateful to Peter for taking on this epic journey from St Andrews to Rome to support our vital work. Every £20 he raises for Alzheimer’s Research UK will pay for another hour of world-class research, bringing us closer to finding ways to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.”
To help Peter raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK’s pioneering research donate online at www.justgiving.com/imayromeResearch and to follow his progress go towww.imayrome.eu