A retired army officer now living in Northern Ireland is planning an epic 500 mile walk which will help raise vital funds for the Dogs Trust Centre in Ballymena.
Iain Davies, 69, aims to walk an average of 14 miles per day along the renowned Camino Francais route - from St Jean Pied de Port in South West France, over the Pyrenees, to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella in North West Spain.
A keen dog lover and owner of five rescue dogs, Iain hopes his sponsored walk will raise over £1,000 for the 50 dogs currently in the care of Dogs Trust Ballymena, encourage dog lovers to consider rescuing a dog and also spread awareness of Dogs Trust’s slogan, A Dog is for Life.
Iain said “ This pilgrimage is something I have been drawn to for a number of years, and as I love dogs and am a keen supporter of the Dogs Trust, I thought that it would be a really good opportunity to generate support for them as well.
“The rehoming centre in Ballymena do such brilliant work, caring for stray, abandoned and unwanted dog is in Northern Ireland. The walk will be long and challenging but I know every pound raised is going to a really worthwhile cause.”
To complete the walk in five weeks Iain needs to average about 14 miles per day in terrain which often will be hilly and mountainous.
“It will be a real challenge for me, but at least I will be walking through some beautiful countryside and interesting cities. All that I require for the walk will be carried on my back, so I aim to carry no more than 10 - 12 kilos, and I will rest and sleep in Pilgrim Hostels on route.
“I have five wonderful rescue dogs. A German Shepherd, three Border Collies and a Glen of Imaal Terrier, two of which we adopted from Dogs Trust Ballymena. We had a third dog from Dogs Trust, a crossbreed called Tara who sadly died last year. She was a terrific character and an absolute joy. Whilst one of the aims of my walk is to raise money and awareness for Dogs Trust, I will also be doing it in memory of Tara, a fantastic rescue dog who brought much fun to my life.”
Iain will be setting off on his 500 mile walk on May 8 and hopes to finish, blisters notwithstanding, over a month later in Spain on the 12th of June. All money raised will go directly to Dogs Trust Ballymena.
Dogs Trust Ballymena Assistant Manager, Sarah Park explains the whole team is behind him: “We are all so delighted that Iain is going to these incredible lengths to raise money for Dogs Trust. We have 50 dogs currently in our care, and all the money raised will go towards their care. Five-hundred miles is no easy feat – what a challenge, thank you Iain!”
You can hear more about Iain’s story and donate on his Just Giving page. Visit https://www.justgiving.com/Iaindavies for more information.