Couple tackle the Pyrenees for Marie Curie

Paul and Fiona Healey
Paul and Fiona Healey

A Westoning couple are taking on a 485-mile trek for a charity supporting people facing terminal illness.

Paul and Fiona Healey begin their journey on Thursday, September 15 and it is expected to take 33 days.

The Camino de Santiago challenge will see them travel from St Jean, across the Pyrenees and through northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela, in aid of Marie Curie.

The couple are well prepared as they have completed a number of challenges over the years, raising more than £79,000 so far for the charity.

Paul is one of the founders of the Housebuilder Brain Game, which raises hundreds of thousands of pounds for Marie Curie every year and helps the charity provide care and support to people living with a terminal illness, and their families.

During the 2008 Brain Game, a former Marie Curie chief executive persuaded him in to a cycle challenge, and Paul and Fiona have been completing fundraisers nearly every year.

After their first outing, known as Bike the Baltic, proved a tough starter.

Paul said: “The challenge was really tough;. We hadn’t had enough time to train and the weather was atrocious, but we are now well in to cycling. When we got back home, Fiona spoke more about that ride than all the other holidays we have ever been on.”

He added: “One of the best things about the challenges is who you meet and there are some absolutely cracking people. Our son Tom will be joining us on our Nicaragua to Costa Rica bike ride next year too. Participants join the challenges for a variety of reasons. Every story you hear from people who have been helped by Marie Curie is a source of emotions, from happiness to tears.

“It has really had a big impact on us, hearing people’s stories like this and truly understanding the role Marie Curie has played in their lives.

“On one of the trips there was a young woman of about 20 who was riding in memory of her dad. Her mum was there to wave her off at the airport, so we said we would look after her. On another ride, we brought a friend along who had lost her husband to cancer, and she has done three challenges now. People rallied around her, and I think the challenge really did her good; she got so much positivity from it.

“It can be very emotional when you finish the challenge. Tears flow, even where you wouldn’t expect it, like these tough looking guys who were on the Cambodia trek with us, who welled up in when we reached Angkor Wat.”

Meredith Niles, fundraising director at Marie Curie, said: “Paul and Fiona’s commitment to Marie Curie is fantastic and we wish them the best of luck on their epic trek. Since they began taking on the challenges they have raised more than £79,000 which has helped our nurses care for more people living with a terminal illness and their loved ones.”

To donate to Paul and Fiona’s challenge please visit: www.justgiving.com/485miles