Johnny Little, one of our storytellers at the Giant’s Causeway, is embarking on a marathon-busting charity walk for Marie Curie this February. Hiking a whopping 28 miles from Portballintrae to Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and back again!
Johnny explains why he’s taken on this challenge:
“As some of you know and many of you don’t, one of my best friends Dr Mike Hutchinson sadly passed away on 18th August last year at the young age of 45 after a brave battle with terminal cancer.
“His final few months were spent in the wonderful care of the fantastic staff of Marie Curie Hospice in Belfast. This amazing organisation not only provided help and support for Mike but also his family circle at the most difficult time in their lives.
“I’ve always been a great believer in the therapeutic, healing power of being outside around nature, so to help my own grieving process I decided to try and do something to help fundraise for this awesome charity.
“I love the outdoors, and am always out walking, hiking or running along our wonderful coastline, clocking up over 30 million steps, over 14,000 miles in the last 5 years.
“So I decided, with the blessing of the Hutchinson family, to create an event that could be done annually, (for the next 5 years at least), all whilst doing something which Mike and I loved – Hiking along the Causeway cliffs, and as a result ‘Mikes Hike’ 2023 was born.
“His birthday (12th February) seemed to be the most apt date, and as I’d known him 28 years the distance chosen was 28 miles.
“The closer it came, the more seemed like it was meant to be as the National Trust and Marie Curie have teamed up to form a partnership which is harnessing the therapeutic power of nature to offer bereavement counselling whilst on long walks in the outdoors. This is a pilot initiative in the peaceful surrounds of Mount Stewart.
“Family members whose loved ones have died in the Marie Curie Hospice in Belfast are being offered the walk and talk therapy in the property on the banks of Strangford Lough as an alternative to a more traditional sit-down counselling session indoors. The partnership has flourished, with four Marie Curie counsellors now using the beautiful gardens at Mount Stewart as the backdrop for therapy walks.
“Marie Curie provide care and support for over 5,500 people living with a terminal illness in Northern Ireland each year. It is the largest charitable provider of end of life care in Northern Ireland and provides home-based nursing across the province, palliative care services, bereavement counselling and Belfast hospice.
“This invaluable service costs a phenomenal amount of money, so I have set my target at £25K. It’s also probably close to the amount that Mike’s care would have cost.
“If you can or you would like to donate to this amazing charity, please visit ‘Mikes Hike 2023’ on www.justgiving.com, follow on Facebook or Instagram ’Mikes Hike’ or click the link: