Birstall man completes 500-mile Spanish pilgrimage in aid of Kirkwood Hospice

A Birstall man has raised £3,500 for Kirkwood Hospice by completing the 500-mile Camino De Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain.

By Jessica Barton
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 6:00 am
John Atkins
John Atkins

Seventy-five year old John Atkins took on the challenge of completing the route after an old family friend invited him along on the journey.

After taking up walking as a way of escapism when his wife became ill, John gradually started doing more and more walking, building up his mileage in preparation for the biggest walk of his life.

As well as taking on this physically demanding challenge, John also decided to raise money for Kirkwood Hospice. With online and cash donations John has managed to raise an incredible £3,500 for the charity.

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John said: “The most challenging part was during the first couple of days because it was raining.

“We had to walk steep inclines and I had a problem with my right knee, which caused me a bit of pain for a couple of days.

“Further on I also twisted my back, with only four miles to go.

“However, the worst part was when the sun came out, which it did on most occasions, and it got really warm towards the end.

“Fortunately, the last four-five days of the walk was mainly through quite a large dense forest of eucalyptus trees, which made it easier.

“Overall, I was quite surprised. I am not saying it was easy but it wasn't quite as difficult as I expected it to be.

“The most outstanding thing was when we were at a place called Burgos, it's a beautiful city.

“We went up this narrow street and just as we came round a bend at the top, there was Burgos Cathedral. It was mind-blowing really, it just sort of appeared - it is an unbelievable building and I would love to go back.

“It's looking like I have raised around £3,500 for Kirkwood Hospice altogether - which is incredible.

“When I was in Spain I did a daily report on Facebook for the people who had sponsored me so they knew what I was doing that day.

“I was really overwhelmed and felt very humbled because of the people who donated money and the comments that I was getting were really supportive - that really gave me a boost and gave me the confidence to go on and do the job.

“I would like to say thank you to everyone for their generous contribution. They will never know how much it has meant to me.

“It is going towards a very worthy cause - I am very grateful.”

The Kirkwood provides specialist care, free of charge, to adults in Kirklees with advanced, progressive illnesses at any time from diagnosis to the end of life, respecting their individual needs and wishes.

Care and support is also provided for their family members, friends and carers, both during the illness and after death.

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