19 Dec 2013

V for Victory: one man, a pair of walking boots and 7,000 miles of British coastline

Gareth Axenderrie 

The Great British rain can often leave us all stuck indoors, wistfully dreaming of exotic holidays abroad. Not for fundraiser and outdoor enthusiast Gareth Axenderrie. Watching the rain lashing down one Sunday last September, Gareth looked up at a map of Wales on the wall, flicked through a brochure on the newly opened Wales Coast Path and pondered: “how long would it take to walk the entire coast of Wales?”. Not content with Google’s answer, his mind then fixated on the idea of walking the coast of Great Britain. The rest is history as they say.

Next March, setting off from Cardiff Bay and walking westwards, Gareth will be embarking on a 7,000 mile challenge to walk around the entire Great British mainland coastline, climbing Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis en route. He’ll be spending most nights camping in the great outdoors, whatever the terrain or weather. Every so often he’ll also be booking into hostels and B&Bs just to recharge his batteries.

Walking with a purpose

Gareth will be fundraising for Velindre Cancer Centre, a local charity very close to his home in Caerphilly, South Wales.

Velindre Cancer Centre is the largest non – surgical cancer Hospital in Wales providing Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy and other specialised anti – cancer treatments for more than half the population of Wales. The charity has been providing support and care to cancer patients in South Wales for more than 50 years. On average, every year, Velindre Cancer Centre provides care and treatment for more than 130,000 outpatients and day cases.

Gareth’s link to the charity is a personal one. Four years ago Gareth’s grandfather was diagnosed with cancer of the colon and large intestine, and was a patient at Velindre’s cancer centre.

He said: “He approached it with a very positive mental attitude, and in turn I think Velindre saw that in him. They treated him as an individual, the way the NHS was always meant to be. They gave him a full course of treatment, radio and chemo, and a few months and a large operation later, his colon cancer was eradicated.”

Gareth’s grandfather is coming up to his 90th birthday, which he's celebrating with a helicopter ride, and he's as fit and healthy as ever.

Gareth said: “This walk is my way of thanking the folks at Velindre and raising awareness that together we can achieve victory over cancer!”

V for Victory: using funds raised to support patients

Patient numbers at the Velindre Cancer Centre have risen in recent years. The complexity of treatments and diagnostic techniques available has also increased. Funds are urgently needed to provide specialist Oncology and Palliative training as well as cancer nurses.

Andrea Hague, director of Velindre Cancer Centre said “Patient centred care is at the heart of everything we do and believe in here at Velindre; all money raised from our ‘Victory over Cancer’ campaign will be used to ensure the best possible support is offered to every patient, their families and carers dealing with cancer. It will allow us to fund ground breaking research, specialist equipment, and new developments so our staff have access to the most up to date training and techniques available.”

Speaking about MyDonate’s role in the charity’s fundraising programme, Andrew Morris, head of fundraising at Velindre, said: “We use MyDonate as it is an efficient service which allows our fundraisers to promote their activities in a positive manner, through an attractive website that is easy to navigate.”

On the road: how you can support Gareth

Gareth will be doing the walk solo. He has invited folks to meet up with him at any point along the way; indeed any support, even just a friendly chat, will be a great boost to him. If anybody is willing to offer any support such as a place to stay whether it be a bed, shed or lawn Gareth would be very grateful: it would go a long way to making his challenge a success.

You can also donate to his cause through his fundraising page on MyDonate.

Gareth said: “MyDonate was recommended to me by the guys at Velindre's Fundraising team. It's just so easy to use from both a fundraising and donating point of view. I've had brilliant feedback from members of the public who have commented on how easy it has been to donate and show support for me.”

Follow Gareth’s progress on Facebook and Twitter (@gb_walk) where he’ll be posting plenty of pictures.

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