A Glasgow woman who is walking over 1,400 miles from her home to Rome for charity will soon reach the Italian capital after nearly six months on the road.
Geraldine McFaul left her home in Balornock at the start of May and is due to arrive at her bucket list destination on Saturday, November 4, having travelled through Scotland, England, France, Switzerland and Italy on foot.
The 54-year-old said she took on the epic trek simply because she “always wanted to go to Rome” and eventually set off after friends told her to “get on with it.”
Geraldine has so far raised over £6,000 for both Mary’s Meals and Dementia UK.
Speaking from the village of Aulla in Tuscany, Geraldine admits she is experiencing “mixed emotions” with Rome in sight, as she prepares to return to “normal life” in Glasgow.
She said: “I do feel a bit odd. I feel like it’s the final straight, but at the same time I don’t want it to be over!
“I’m excited about getting to the finish line, so it’s a bit contradictory, really.
“I am looking forward to getting back home. I’ve got a girls’ weekend just after I get back, which will be nice. It will be odd, but it will be good to get back into real life.
“I have been complaining about it being too hot here, but I am going back to Scottish winter.”
Geraldine, who has previously admitted she has been “making it up as she goes along”, walks on average 12 miles a day with her trailer and has relied on the generosity of strangers, or as she calls them; “kindnappers”.
When asked about her highlights of the trip, the freelance risk management consultant said: “The people.”
She added: “In Italy, you meet people in the accommodation every day. There’s a group of about ten of us walking now and you invariably bump into two or three of them every night. That’s been nice and sociable.
“Getting over the Alps has been a highlight. That was a massive, massive thing. I felt a bit weird for three days afterwards because I was on the other side, and I never thought I’d get there!”.
Mary’s Meals serves nutritious school meals to more than 2.4 million children in 18 of the world’s poorest countries.
The promise of a daily meal attracts children into the classroom, where they can gain an education and hope for the future.
Dementia UK is the specialist dementia nursing charity that is there for the whole family. Its nurses, known as Admiral Nurses, provide free specialist advice, support and understanding to anyone affected by dementia, whenever it’s needed.
With the support of an Admiral Nurse and Dementia UK – whether it’s on the charity’s Helpline, through its Clinics service or in the community – the families Dementia UK support know they are not alone.
Greeting Geraldine in Rome will be volunteers for Mary’s Meals Italy and family and friends from home, including her 94-year-old godfather, Desmond McGowan, who has been video-calling Geraldine throughout her journey to keep her company on the road.
The duo will be in the Pope’s General Audience at The Vatican to celebrate her arrival into the city.
Though she has enjoyed her adventure Geraldine said she’s unlikely to do another similar trip in future as she ‘doesn’t think she’d be able to top” her walk to Rome.
However, she hopes her walk with a difference can inspire others to follow her footsteps and raise money for charity.
She said: “At the start of this journey, I knew I could get up and go for a walk, but I had no idea I could live nomadically for this amount of time. I’m much more confident around people now.
“I’d say that if I can do it, anyone can do it! And I’d encourage anyone who is able to consider doing something similar, especially if it helps support two incredible charities, like Mary’s Meals and Dementia UK.”
Commenting on Geraldine’s journey, Gemma Love, supporter engagement officer at Mary’s Meals, said: “We have been so inspired by Geraldine and it has been a great joy to follow her walk from start to finish. We are incredibly grateful for her support, which will help us feed more hungry children.
“We’re sure Geraldine’s adventure will encourage others to get active and fundraise and make a life-changing difference to little ones living in some of the world’s poorest countries.”
Dr Hilda Hayo, Chief Admiral Nurse and CEO at Dementia UK, said: “Everyone at Dementia UK has been blown away by Geraldine’s fundraising efforts, and the whole charity sends our heartfelt thanks and congratulations as she crosses the finish line in Rome.
“In taking on this mammoth challenge, Geraldine has raised vital funds which will help families and individuals affected by dementia access the life-changing support offered by our dementia specialist Admiral Nurses and national Helpline.
“One in two of us will be affected by dementia in our lifetime, and the support of extraordinary fundraisers like Geraldine ensures we can continue to offer support and advice to as many people as possible.”
You can also follow Geraldine’s progress on her Instagram page here.
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