Dermot on course to complete second ‘unlikely pilgrimage’

Dermot Breen.  INCT 25-721-CON
Dermot Breen. INCT 25-721-CON

A Greenisland teacher will be remembered this summer during a mammoth charity trek along the north coast of Spain.

Belfast man Dermot Breen is on course to complete the 1,000-kilometre walk as a further tribute to his late wife, Jacqui.

A former P1 teacher at Greenisland Primary School, Mrs Breen sadly passed away in January 2015 following a battle with cancer.

Last year, Dermot walked the entire length of the Ulster Way, raising over £20,000 for Cancer Research UK.

The fundraising venture started and finished at the Upper Station Road school where his wife had taught for over 25 years.

And this summer, the charity will receive a further boost as Dermot tackles a second 1,000km walk along the Camino de Santiago.

“The idea for my Ulster Way walk was actually inspired by the book ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce, which Jacqui and I both loved,” he explained.

“In the book, the main character sets off unexpectedly one morning to walk a distance of 1,000km to visit an old work colleague who is terminally ill with cancer. Before Jacqui passed away, I told her that I would walk even further than Harold Fry if I thought it could save her.

“I was never a great walker and so she really appreciated the sentiment behind my words. Unfortunately, there was no saving Jacqui and, although heartbroken, I decided to honour her memory and to do something to help save others by walking further than Harold Fry. It so happens that the complete Ulster Way route is over 1,000km and so it was the perfect choice for my challenge, which became known as 1000K4J. That walk was completed in September 2015 and raised over £20,000 for cancer research.

“However, I reckon that I have a good few miles left in my walking boots yet and so this year I decided to add another 1,000km by walking the famous Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. It presents a very personal mental challenge for me as I have not been away from home for more than a few days since Jacqui passed away. However, I am as committed as ever to helping Cancer Research UK fight cancer and I hope that, with support for my latest challenge, further vital funds will be raised to help them find better treatments faster.”

You can find out more and get updates on Dermot’s challenge by ‘liking’ his Facebook page www.facebook.com/1000k4j or search for ‘1000K4J’.

You can also sponsor his fundraising efforts at www.justgiving.com/1000K4J or by texting JBRE54 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070.

Mark McMahon, Cancer Research UK local fundraising manager in Northern Ireland, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Dermot has decided to continue to raise funds our charity by taking on another 1,000km challenge. With Dermot’s continued support, we will bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”