'Hero' Parkinson's sufferer to walk length of Britain for charity - The Rugby Observer

'Hero' Parkinson's sufferer to walk length of Britain for charity

Andy Morris 8th Aug, 2017   0

A PARKINSON’S sufferer is to embark on a ‘heroic journey’ by walking the length of Britain to raise funds and awareness for the disease.

Rugby resident Andy Martin plans to walk the 900 mile route from John o’Groats to Lands’ End in just one month in support of Parkinson’s UK.

The ex-Newbold RFC rugby player was diagnosed with Parkinson’s five years ago, but still continues to play for AEI Rugby and Coventry Welsh.

During the 2015 Rugby World Cup, he spoke passionately at the Rugby Fanzone about the challenges that come from living with Parkinson’s.

He said: “When I was diagnosed, after a few days of wondering ‘what next?’ and ‘why me?’, I came to the conclusion that I had a choice – stand up and fight or curl up and hide.

“​I chose to stand up and keep active – it started by continuing to play rugby at the weekends. Then I started looking for adventures that would challenge me as well as allow me to visit parts of the UK I had not seen before.”

Since then he has twice completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge and the London to Brighton challenge, climbed Snowdon, and walked the ‘Thames Path’ from Fulham to Henley-on-Thames.

He has originally looked into doing the John o’Groats to Lands’ End walk back in 2008, so had an idea of the scale and magnitude of the challenge.

But then he decided to up the pressure by setting a time limit of 30 days.

“Am I being realistic or just daft? We will have to see,” he said.

He will find out on September 1 when he begins his mammoth hike.

He plans to reach his home town on September 19, and walk from Tesco in Leicester Road to Kilsby the next day accompanied by his son Liam, 7, along with his rugby teammates.

And he has invited Rugbeians to join in and spur him on.

He said: “I’d like as many people as possible to join me on my walk, whether just to say hello and offer encouragement or to perhaps walk a mile or more with me.

“For those that are not able to join me, you can still help create awareness by following my walk on social media and sharing with your family and friends.”

He has already recruited Rugby MP Mark Pawsey, who has urged the MPs who represent the towns on Andy’s route to support the trek.

Andy (left) has enlisted the support of Rugby MP Mark Pawsey. (s)

Mr Pawsey also drew Andy’s adventure to the attention of Gavin Hastings, the former Scotland rugby union captain who has campaigned for Parkinson’s since his wife’s diagnosis in 2003.

Mr Pawsey said: “I think we will all be amazed by the challenge Andy has set himself. To walk the length of the UK for anyone would be tough work for anyone and for Andy to complete it would be incredibly inspirational.

“As President of the Rugby branch of Parkinson’s UK, I am always very keen to support the fight against Parkinson’s. I know there is a lot of support both in Rugby and in Parliament for the charity and I hope that people across the country will support Andy’s heroic journey.”

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition which can cause tremors, slowness and rigidity.

Andy has so far raised over £1,200 of his £8,000 target.

Visit Andy’s website www.joglein30days.co.uk or his fundraising page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Andy-Martin14 to support his journey.

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