A man, who is walking a 500 mile Spanish pilgrimage trail, is asking people for just a penny a mile to help beat cancer.
Simon Tauber, from Alford Bars near Loxwood, plans to trek the ‘Camino’ to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
On June 15 the 51-year-old will start the challenging mountainous route in memory of his mother. He will stay at two monasteries and several hostels over about five weeks.
Simon’s mother died of leukaemia while being cared for at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton. His wife’s aunt is currently battling with cancer.
He said: “On the sad day that I lost my mother to leukaemia I walked out of the Royal Marsden hospital in Sutton and made a promise to myself.
“A promise to one day do something to thank and help the Royal Marsden hospitals for all the care, comfort, understanding and expertise they gave her. It was at times the only positive thought I could find through what was a paralysing grief.
“Seven years passed when, following a big disappointment in my work, I was feeling depressed and a bit sorry for myself. I knew I had to shake myself out of it.
“What a blessing it proved then that I remembered the promise made those seven years before.
“To do something positive and for others is the best way to stop focussing too much on oneself.
“It gave me a sense of clarity and a means to regain some proper perspective.”
Simon said he was used to walking with his dog for a few miles, but this trek will be just as much a mental challenge as a physical one.
“It’s true to say that I do like to walk but I‘m no fanatic. Usually I walk my dog Saffron about three miles every morning. The occasional excursion walk and that‘s about the sum of it.
“This is to be 500 miles, walking at least 17 miles a day and carrying a rucksack weighing 9kg.
“It won’t be easy, but a pilgrimage is never meant to be easy. It is meant to be a challenge physically, mentally and a spiritual commitment.”
He added: “I will do it. When you have the personal experience, you know what people are going through is horrible.”
When he reaches the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela he will read out the names of loved ones in their memory.
He said: “Whilst raising money for the Royal Marsden Charity remains the primary objective, I saw the opportunity of another benefit.
“Almost everyone has lost someone special to them whether or not to cancer and there was a real opportunity make the whole experience more meaningful to others.
“Just as I will read out my mother’s name in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela so I would offer to do the same for others whatever their faith.
“To my mind different faiths or religions are just different ‘caminos’ (paths) and to be entrusted with someone’s memory is a very special honour indeed regardless of faith or denomination.”
He has not set a target for his fundraising, but has suggested people think about giving one penny for each mile.
He said: “One penny a mile. That’s £5 each and all those £5s together (add up). Whatever people can give - and regardless of that, if they’ve lost someone to let me know, I will read their name out.”
He has set up a website where people can pledge sponsorship and send him names and photographs of people they wish him to read out.
Also on his website, Simon will post updates of his travels. Go to www.remembrancewalk.com for more information.