Gillian reaches finish line of her epic walking challenge in Davy's memory

Rachel McNabb


Rachel McNabb

Ballymena woman Gillian Beattie has reached the finish line of a 354 hour walking challenge she set herself in memory of her beloved husband who sadly passed away last year.

Davy Beattie was diagnosed on November 9, 2017 with an aggressive form of stomach cancer.

Shockingly he only survived for a further 354 hours and sadly passed away at 3am on November 24, just two weeks later.

Gillian took on the personal challenge not only in memory of Davy but also to raise funds for Cancer Research and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Gillian's emotional final few hours of her challenge on November 24 saw her walk to the Macmillan Cancer Unit in Antrim for 3am where her husband passed away peacefully the year before.

The final hours were the most challenging for Gillian, who was supported on the day by friends and family including her son Warren.

Gillian left her home in Ballymena at 9pm and set off on the 14 mile walk which took six hours.

On the way she was also supported by representatives from Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research as well as Dermot McLarnon from The Ramble Inn who very kindly provided refreshments and biscuits.

She said: “I had great support on the walk and for the first part we all chatted along the way. By the time we reached Dunsilly it was myself and my niece Courtney and I found the final hours to the Macmillan Unit the longest and most painful of the route.

“However, when we got there we were greeted with open arms and led to the quiet room for tea, coffee and buns and to reminisce on Davy's time spent at Macmillan and the end of my challenge.

“This year has flown in and the challenge certainly kept me busy and I have made so many friends along the way.

“Now the challenge is over I'm not sure what I will do. I am one of those people who has to keep going so I will have a break and then in the New Year I will think of something else.”

Gillian explained that she and Davy made a bucket list last year of all the walks in the North and South of Ireland they had never done before as well as their favourite ones.

Her walks took her to various locations including the Antrim Hills, PortPath and Crawfordsburn to Helens Bay, Bangor and back and Tollymore forest in Newcastle.

In addition to the bucket list Gillian travelled to Morocco with her sister Gloria in October to trek Mount Toubkal with a summit of 4167m.

Gillian said she hoped to encourage others to consider taking up their own challenge.

She said: “Everyone has their own problems and challenges in life. For me walking was a distraction and something to focus on.

“It doesn't matter what age you are I would encourage people to throw their boots on and take up their own challenge.”

Gillian recently raised £1,450 from donations during a 16 hour walk on a treadmill at Tesco, Larne Road.

In addition, her justgiving page has reached £7,263. Gillian plans to keep the page at teams/gillianbeattie354 open for another week.

Gillian would like to thank everyone who has supported her throughout her challenge.

“Lastly I would like to thank my mum Sylvia who has been with me all the way and glad to see the challenge is over,” Gillian said.

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