Man, 72, walks from France to Spain to raise money for cancer after diagnosis

Graham Reid took part in a pilgrimage to raise thousands for the Beatson after he and his wife were diagnosed with cancer.

Man walks from France to Spain on Camino de Santiago to raise money for Beatson Cancer Charity STV News

A man has raised thousands for cancer research by taking on a 500-mile walking challenge after he and his wife were diagnosed with the disease.

Insurance broker Graham Reid, 72, from the south side of Glasgow, took part in the Camino de Santiago challenge last year and raised £6,680 for Beatson Cancer Charity. 

The dad-of-three decided to sign up to the feat following his 60-year-old wife Jane’s bowel cancer diagnosis in 2020 and his own lymphoma cancer diagnosis in 2022.

Both had attended the Beatson Cancer Centre in Glasgow for radiotherapy treatment.

He said: “The Beatson are fantastic, they are such lovely people.

“I had Covid during treatment and they looked after me – they made sure I had a mask on and brought me through the back door. It was like speedy boarding.

“The experience Jane and I have had there is out of this world. We can’t praise them all enough.”

In spring 2022, Graham discovered a lump in his chin, which tests revealed was low grade follicular non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

He underwent two weeks of radiotherapy at the Beatson Cancer Centre in Glasgow.

“I knew I was quite lucky that it had been caught so soon,” he added.

Graham raised thousands for Beatson Cancer Charity

Jane was diagnosed with bowel cancer following a screening and underwent an operation and radiotherapy in December 2020.

She is in remission, with her final check-up is scheduled at the Beatson for next July.

After the pair’s experiences, Graham decided to take on the 500-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage to raise funds for the Beatson.

He said a former client of his, who is a nun, suggested he go on the walk after he completed the West Highland Way 12 years ago.

“I hadn’t heard of it but I’d gone home to Google it and always thought ‘I wanted to try that.’ It always stuck with me,” he said.

“So last spring, I went over to a travel centre last spring to book in.

“My friends and family thought I was off my head.”

Graham started his journey for the 500-mile walk on September 9 2023 when he flew to Paris and got a train down to Bayon.

He then got another train to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and set off a couple of days later. 

The walk begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port which is in the Pyrénées, goes along the North Coast of Spain through the Rioja region, through Galicia, and then on to Santiago.  

Graham walked between 15 and 20 miles every day and took 40 days to complete it.  

He said: “It was a beautiful walk and the towns are gorgeous. I stayed a couple of days in Leon.

“I got lost a few times. It was a very special journey.”

Pilgrimage passport given to Graham

Graham’s work colleague, Lorraine Scott, encouraged him to fundraise for charity as part of the challenge and set up a JustGiving page for Graham. 

Graham said: “It makes me feel good but if it wasn’t for Lorraine getting involved, I wouldn’t have even known how to set it up.  

“A lot of people, friends, family and clients donated to it. People I met on the walk along the way also donated – someone donated £100 to it after I met them.” 

Graham’s employer, T L Dallas, matched the amount he fundraised and donated it to their own charitable trust.

Over 300,000 people take on the Camino de Santiago each year.

Graham said it was emotional completing the trip. 

“Taking on a challenge like this has to come from within. You could say ‘oh you should do this’, but you need to want to do it. 

“I didn’t see it as a challenge, I just thought of it as going a walk.

“Everybody is touched by cancer. You can do all kinds of things to raise money. I would encourage anyone to give something different a go.”

It comes as the Beatson Cancer Charity encourage people to take on a challenge and help raise vital funds.

The charity provides many events throughout the year, but people are also supported to take on their own adventure – whether it’s a run, skydive, sail, hike or something else.  

Ashleigh Carroll from Thornliebank raised £470 for the Beatson after trekking to Mount Everest Base Camp in November 2023.

Ashleigh reached Mount Everest Base Camp

The 33-year-old developed a love of the outdoors after climbing Munros during lockdown.

She signed up to the challenge after spotting a friend had climbed Everest on Instagram.

She added: “Her pictures looked amazing and I thought ‘I’m doing that.’

“From the time I signed up to the time I went, I didn’t do any training at all.  

“I didn’t practice any Munros – I didn’t go to the gym or anything.  

“Everybody thought I was mental but when I have the mentality that I’m going to do something, I’ll do it.

“I just thought ‘it’s fine, what’s the worst that can happen?’” 

Ashleigh took on the challenge by herself but joined an expedition group to complete it.

It took them eight days to reach base camp. 

Ashleigh says she was always going to take on the challenge, and then friends and family encouraged her to do it for charity. 

She said she chose Beatson as a few family members have died after being diagnosed with cancer.

She said: “I’d already done the Kiltwalk in April for Beatson Cancer Charity so I thought even if I can get a bit more raised then every little helps. 

Ashleigh completes Everest Base Camp climb

“Beatson Cancer Charity was nominated as our Charity of the Year at my work so all our fundraising went there.  

“If you’re going to do something, you may as well do it for a charity. If you’ve got any event or anything happening at all… If there’s an opportunity for you to raise any money for a charity, then why not do it?” 

Niall Gibson, community and challenges fundraiser at Beatson Cancer Charity, said: “We’re always really inspired when people choose to take on challenges and fundraise for our charity. 

“Taking on a challenge in Scotland is one thing, but going abroad and pushing yourself to achieve something like Mount Everest Base Camp or completing the Camino de Santiago is just incredible. 

“We’re so grateful to everyone who chooses to fundraise for us – the money raised allows us to support more cancer patients and their families in the future.” 

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