A grandmother and grandson have teamed up to take on the Great Wall of China in aid of a hospice charity.
Family duo Sue Last and 14 year old George Last are already in training for their marathon trek next May along part of the longest structure made by humans when they’ll be raising money for the St Kentigern Hospice in St Asaph.
They will fly to Beijing, and the gruelling 33km walk across steep and uneven terrain will start at Huangyaguan and finish at Juyongguan.
Along the way they’ll stop at Badaling, where they’ll get the chance to rebuild a section of the Great Wall, and leave memento in memory of a loved one, embedded in the rock.
Sue and George will be among 13 hospice supporters taking part in the walk – it’s hoped that others will sign up before next May.
The eight-bed in patient hospice with day care facilities provides unparalleled care for those with life-threatening and terminal illness, but has to rely on 80 per cent of its income from the generous donations of the public.
Sue, 68, from St Asaph, is a chaplain and a board member at the hospice and is passionate about the “fantastic” work they do with patients and their families.
The mum-of-three and grandmother-of-seven is thrilled that George has agreed to be her “minder” on the trip.
According to Sue, she’s doing the walk in memory of all the patients she’s had the privilege of knowing during her time as chaplain at the hospice while George will be leaving something in the wall in memory of his grandad who died in 2011.
An experienced walker, Sue said: “I go walking in the Clwydian Range every week and I do the North Wales Pilgrim’s path once a year, from Holywell to Bardsey Island once every year.
“The Great Wall of China is iconic and it’s really wonderful that George is coming with me on the walk.
“I take my hat off to him for agreeing to join me – I can’t think of many teenagers who’d be willing to do something like this. I’m very proud of him.
“This is all for a great cause because St Kentigern is a brilliant place – it doesn’t just help the patients, it also helps their families.
“I’ve got a background in nursing and I used to work as a Commissioning Manager for the Liverpool Health Authority, commissioning palliative care. So in my time I’ve seen some very good palliative care and very bad palliative care, and St Kentigern is definitely up there with the very best.”
George, 14, from Hoylake in the Wirral, said: “It’s going to be an experience and I’m looking forward to going with my gran, and I’m fascinated by Chinese culture.
“There’s a bit on the walk where you have to make it up 1,000 steps and I want to be the first in the group to make it to the top of that.
“It’s something I’ll be able to look back on with pride and it’ll give me a few stories to tell. It’s for a really good cause. I enjoy going out walking with my gran, and she ‘s been telling me all about St Kentigern and the wonderful work they do. They help a lot of people.”
Lindsey Thomas, Community Fundraiser at St Kentigern Hospice, is organising the trip.
She said: “I’d like to pay tribute to everybody doing the trek to raise money for St Kentigern. It’s going to be tough because much of the terrain is uneven and steep. It’s certainly a challenge.
“People are so enthusiastic about it, and are doing so many different things to raise money for it, not just sponsorship. There’s one lady doing an auction of promises and another is putting on afternoon teas.
“George is definitely enthusiastic about going on the walk with his grandmother. It’s refreshing to see, he’s not your typical teenager. He’s the youngest on the trip.
“We’re still on the lookout for other people to join.
“I’ve lost both my parents and I’ll be leaving something in the wall in memory of them.
Lindsey’s mum Joan, died two years ago, aged 88 from heart disease at St Kentigern, so she knows first-hand about the valuable serviced the hospice provides.
She said: “St Kentigern made a big difference. She came to the hospice for six weeks. Initially she was here for respite care but then she wasn’t well enough to leave.
“If it wasn’t for the hospice she would have ended up going in and out of hospital. When she was in hospital it was so busy, it was noisy, she was in a ward, not her own room. At St Kentigern she got individual care, she got her own room, so she got peace and quiet, and she got dignity.
“The money raised from this trek will go to help people who are in similar circumstances. The hospice needs donations from the public to keep going. The more money we can raise, the more people will be able to access the crucial service the hospice provides.
“A few people on the trip are going to be leaving a memento in memory of a loved one in the wall.”
For more information about the trek or to make a donation visit www.stkentigernhospice.org.uk or ring 01745 585221.