A Crossmaglen man who undertook to walk the length of Ireland in memory of his late father has raised £6,500 for the Southern Area Hospice.
Stephen Hughes set out on his gruelling 548km trek from Malin Head to Mizen Head on Monday, August 14, hoping to raise funds in tribute to dad Pat, who passed away in July 2022.
He picked the hospice as the benefitting charity for a number of reasons; one of which was the fact Ireland was always his dad’s favourite place to travel, and it was the last memorable holiday his mum and dad had together – the Wild Atlantic Way, back in 2021.
Stephen’s dad also had a great love for Crossmaglen Rangers and the club kindly presented him with a jersey, which he opted to wear on his travels.
It was the second time that Stephen had taken on a challenge for the hospice. Last year he climbed 12 peaks in 12 weeks, ending the challenge on Croagh Patrick on a snowy day on December 12, 2022 – his dad’s birthday. He raised £3,500 for the hospice on that occasion.
With this year’s fundraiser doubling that figure, it couldn’t have been done without the support of Stephen’s local community.
Speaking to Armagh I, Stephen said that the walk was an “amazing experience”.
Despite a brief case of cold feet upon travelling to Donegal, by the next morning he was “raring to go”.
He explained: “I had set myself a certain amount of ‘KMs’ to do each day and had intended to camp out where possible. However, in reality, with the amount of walking I was doing, it wasn’t very viable and I actually hit a wall from tiredness the morning after camping.
“My family then decided to contact B&Bs and hotels with my story and they were amazing – putting me up at reduced prices.
“It was challenging at times as I did the walk completely on my own but I actually had an amazing time walking through the centre of Ireland and the weather was beautiful!”
Stephen continued: “I completed the walk in 16.5 days and finished on my mum and dad’s wedding anniversary which was very poignant! I had set myself 20 days to complete it but was delighted to beat that.
“I was totally overwhelmed by the amount raised. In total I have fundraised £10,000 for the hospice but to me no amount of money could replace the care and attention both my dad and my mum received in the hospice before he passed away in July 2022.”
A spokesperson for the Southern Area Hospice said: “We would like to sincerely thank Stephen Hughes for his generous donation.
“Stephen received overwhelming support from his local community in Crossmaglen and from people he met throughout his walk. Thank-you to everyone who supported Stephen.”