In June, Cliff set off on a trip walking from John O'Groats to Lands' End in memory of his mother. By hiking across the country and camping in the wild, he covered over 1217 miles over 77 days.

Below Cliff tells us about his challenge and why he chose to fundraise for Trinity, Teenage Cancer Trust and Young Minds.

“In my mum’s memory, I wanted to raise money for three charities inspired by her life and experiences.

First is Teenage Cancer Trust. I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in my mid-20s. The only reason I found out I had cancer early enough was because of my mum and her diagnosis with terminal bowel cancer. Mum was stoic about her diagnosis, but felt aggrieved that I, as a young person, had to go through all that. I know she would have wanted to help other young people in the same position.

Second, Royal Trinity Hospice, who looked after mum so well in her final days and helped relieve the burden on our tiny struggling family.

And lastly, Young Minds. Mum struggled her whole life with severe depression. If we can help people deal with these issues in youth, hopefully we can prevent those issues carrying on into adulthood.

A challenge of this size was totally new for me. I like walking at the weekends for an hour or two. But I am nowhere near a ‘walker’ - one of these people with a tent in the closet ready to go and all the gear. This was unchartered territory for me. I never even went camping when I was a kid. Because of this the challenge was very, well, challenging.

It is easy now that it is over to look back to with the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia, but the truth is it was very difficult. Of course it was tough physically, especially when you’re carrying a full pack and walking on feet that are sore from the previous days’ hiking. With that said, as time went on, I felt myself getting stronger and, although it always hurt somewhere, I felt I could continue walking, in a way, forever. Instead, the bigger challenge by far was the mental challenge. The worrying about my bowels. The anxiety about wild camping. At times the anxiety was all consuming and I thought to myself I cannot carry on like this. But I did.

Because of mum’s cancer we spent a lot of time in hospitals. There was one time she was in for quite a while - longer than previous occasions - and I was there every day. It was an open ward and it was constantly noisy. I remember there was a woman in a bed close by who was constantly pleading with God to help her and another crying out in pain regularly. All I had was an uncomfortable upright chair to sit and rest in. I remember thinking that when the time came for mum, to be in this ward would be unbearable. I couldn’t bear the thought of being in that place to watch her die. Yet I felt there was no alternative.

When she got moved to Trinity and I first went to visit her there, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe a place like that existed. I felt it took some of the burden of care off me, my mum’s partner and her sister. It meant we could visit her and stay with her comfortably, could take her around the garden. Sit outside in the fresh air. Open the windows and feel the breeze. It gave her dignity in her final days and that, combined with the fact that I knew people were giving her great care, really helped me mentally. Trinity looked after my mum in her last days and I promised myself then that one day I would do something to show my gratitude"

Donate to Cliff’s JustGiving fundraiser

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