A man from Whitehead is set to trek from Italy to France over the next number of weeks to raise funds for an Australian-based charity.
Phil Rodgers will be walking from Rome to Nice, to be there in time for the Northern Ireland football team’s first group game in the European Championships.
The Whitehead native will be taking on the challenge to raise funds for the Irish Support Agency.
The charity, which is based in Australia, helps Irish people, north and south, who are in Australia and find themselves in circumstances of crisis or distress.
Phil has wanted to walk this route for a number of years, since he read about the ‘Via Francigena’ trek in a magazine article.
Phil picked the charity as he has recently spent time in Australia. While there, he heard about the good work the support agency carried out as well as hearing from a number of Irish and Northern Irish people who had fallen on hard times while in the region.
This will be the second charity trek that he will be completing in less than a year.
Over the summer months of 2015, Phil raised money for PIPS (public initiative for prevention of suicide and self harm) while walking the Camino Santiago pilgrimage route.
Phil said: “I don’t think I’ll be as quick as the 19 days of the Camino Santiago as I’m nowhere near the fitness levels I was last year.
“I will be walking alone and will be wild camping this time as I found it difficult on my previous trek to sleep due to noise from other pilgrims.”
Michael O’Neill’s side will be kicking off their campaign against Poland on Sunday, June 12.
Phil will be in France throughout the tournament, but doesn’t have tickets for any group games.
He’s been having a recurring dream that the Green and White Army progress out of the group. He will travel to the NI training camp to offer his support to the team.
To make a donation, log on to www.irishsupportagency.org.au/donate.