Southwick student walks entire Monarch’s Way and raises three times his target for St Barnabas House hospice in Worthing

A Southwick student has walked the entire length of the Monarch’s Way to raise money for St Barnabas House hospice in Worthing.

Jack Devonport, 24, set out on the epic 625-mile walk after making ‘a silly bet’ with a friend and aimed to raise £1 for each mile – but ended up collecting £2,135, more than three times his target.

Jack on the Monarch's Way, which ends a mile away from the family home

Jack on the Monarch's Way, which ends a mile away from the family home

The hospice has been caring for his father, retired train driver David Devonport, since January 2017, nine months after he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Jack said: “One of the reasons he is still here is due to the fantastic work of the people at St Barnabas. So, after I made silly bet with a friend, I found myself facing the challenge of walking the Monarch’s Way, all in support of St Barnabas House.”

The walk from Worcester to Shoreham, following the escape route King Charles II is said to have taken in 1651, took Jack around four months.

He said all the support and donations kept him motivated and he was ‘over the moon’ with the amount he raised.

Jack Devonport with his father David, a retired train driver

Jack Devonport with his father David, a retired train driver

Jack said: “It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve done – 625 miles is a lot further than you would imagine.”

Jack, a former Shoreham Academy student, is now studying for a PhD student at the University of Sussex. He started his walk in August last year and completed it in sections, mainly at weekends.

David said: “My wife and I are so proud of Jack for taking on the Monarch’s Way challenge but also think he’s a bit mad. When he came back from walking each weekend, he was usually filthy and had a new injury, or an interesting story to tell us. He’s walked through thunderstorms, slept outside in the wild without a tent and met a lot of lovely people along the way.

“He has raised a huge amount, which will help another person to receive the same amazing care that I have been fortunate to have.”

David, 60, has been attending the day hospice, where he has benefited from a range of services, including physiotherapy and complementary therapy.

He said: “I was diagnosed with lung cancer in April 2016, three weeks after I retired as train driver for Southern Rail. The doctors told me I had six months to live, so I feel really lucky to be here still.

“The December before I came to St Barnabas, I was really unwell. I’d been taken off my steroids, which caused me to feel dreadful and I had stopped eating and lost a lot of weight. I was so close to just giving up and it was a worrying time for my family and friends.

“That’s when Dot, one of the hospice’s specialist community nurses, came to visit me at home. She was absolutely brilliant and helped with everything from arranging physiotherapy sessions to pain management, sorting out benefits that I didn’t know I was entitled to and even arranging for our family home to be adapted so that I could get around more easily.

“When I was referred to St Barnabas, I did think that it was a place that you come to pop you clogs but when I got here I realised it wasn’t at all. I was really surprised. The hospice is all about celebrating life, being positive and pushing on. The care I have received from all the staff and volunteers has been fantastic, you can talk to them about anything and they are there for you when you need them.”

Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-devonport1 for more information.