A MONTROSE man is following in the footsteps of a Roman emperor and his army this week to raise funds for charity.
Michael Fotheringham, accompanied by six work colleagues, set out on Tuesday to walk the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall for Orchid, the UK’s only charity which focuses entirely on male-specific cancers.
Although the usual route for following the ancient structure, from Wallsend on the River Tyne to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast, is 86 miles, Michael and his party intend to round it up to 90 miles by walking coast-to-coast, finishing in North Shields.
The group have set themselves the punishing pace of completing the walk in just four days and are set to raise in excess of £5,000 for Orchid.
They are all members of the same crew of a North Sea oil vessel and were inspired to undertake the challenge by one of their colleagues who was diagnosed two years ago with testicular cancer.
After being treated with chemotherapy and an operation, he returned to work a year ago and will walk the wall with his crew-mates.
Michael, who has never attempted a long-distance walk before, said they have been preparing for the trip for the last six months and have even kept up their training while on board, walking round the vessel while off duty.
He said: “I spend as much time with these guys as I do with my family and we were all affected when he was diagnosed.
“The company puts out a monthly magazine and we kept seeing articles about people on the Danish side of the company doing lots of sponsored events so we thought we could do the same.
“That’s when I came up with the idea, and we thought that if we did it as a crew it wouldn’t only be charitable but a team bonding exercise too as although we spend a lot of time together, we don’t talk about anything apart from work.
“We decided to finish up in North Shields as that’s where our colleague comes from. We also thought we’d walk for Orchid as I’ve noticed over the past few years that although there’s a lot done for breast cancer etc no-one seems to talk about men’s cancers.”
Orchid was founded in 1996 by Colin Osborne, a former testicular cancer patient, and offers support and information for those suffering from prostate, testicular and penile cancer.
It also runs a dedicated medical research programme as well as education and awareness campaigns with support for patients, relatives and healthcare professionals.
Michael added: “This will be the first distance walk I’ve done since I was in the Scouts but it’s like a bug and we’re thinking about doing the three peaks challenge - three mountains in 24 hours - next year and we’re thinking about doing another walk during the summer to warm up for that.”
Michael has set up a Justgiving page for sponsorship and donations which can be found at www.justgiving.com/michael-fotheringham and further details about Orchid and its services can be found online at www.orchid-cancer.org.uk