Wednesday 26 October 2016

Irish man walking 900 miles in 30 days in memory of beloved uncle he lost to cancer

Joanne Sweeney

Published 22/08/2015 | 13:24

Ashley Boyd will walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End in honour of Adrian Rae
Ashley Boyd will walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End in honour of Adrian Rae

A man is walking 900 miles from John O'Groats to Land's End via Northern Ireland in just 30 days in memory of an uncle who died from lung cancer.

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Ashley Boyd will undertake the epic challenge to honour Adrian Rae, who regarded Ashley as the son he wished he had.

The Ahoghill man (35) has chosen to turn losing his job as an opportunity to commemorate Mr Rae, who meant the world to him.

He will start off from John O'Groats in Scotland on October 4 and walk to Cairnryan, from where he will catch a ferry home to Northern Ireland, where he will walk 150 miles over five days before flying to Liverpool and continuing on to Land's End.

Mr Rae, known to his friends as Adie, died from lung cancer close to Christmas last year just 10 weeks after being diagnosed.

The 49-year-old was due to marry his fiancée Hana Chochrunova on March 9 this year.

Instead of a wedding reception being held at Leighmore House, Ballymena, Ms Chochrunova chose to hold a fundraising night where 250 close friends and family gathered £3,160 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Now Ashley intends to raise a further £5,000 for the same charity by walking 30 miles every day for 30 days.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "I was very close to Adie. He lost his own mother to lung cancer at the age of two. My mother Eleanor helped to raise him and his brother along with us in Ahoghill.

"He was almost like a brother to me instead of an uncle and was a fantastic support over the years.

"Adie had been in and out of hospital for a bit last year until they eventually diagnosed him with lung cancer. It was too late and he died 10 weeks later.

"The Macmillan nurses were brilliant with him, which is why I wanted to raise money."

Mr Rae worked all his life as a doorman and in security at events - a job he loved. Ashley said one of the biggest thrills of his uncle's life was meeting IBF Superbantamweight World Champion Carl Frampton while working security at the Odyssey Arena.

Ashley, who lives in Bristol, will lose his IT job at the end of next month, but he said he would not let it get him down. He added: "When I knew I was losing my job I decided to use the free time to do something worthwhile, so I came up with my 30/30 walk challenge. I only took up walking two months ago, but I've already worked up to walking 30 miles one day.

"I will be joined along the route by people who have either experienced cancer or who have lost someone to cancer, and thanks to the kindness of strangers I will be put up at various people's homes."

Ms Chochrunova, who intends to walk with Ashley when he comes to Northern Ireland, paid tribute to her late fiancé.

She said: "Adie was the type of man who would do anything for you and anything for others. The amount of people who told me after he died about the things he did for others really surprised me." He was an amazing man."

Ashley had already raised £1,600 and anyone wishing to donate or walk with Ashley can contact him via his JustGiving page.

Belfast Telegraph

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