Epic walk to inspire kindness

An adventurous dad-of-two is walking from London to Lancashire to raise money for seriously ill children.

Nik McEwan, 34, from Portsmouth, will carry his camping equipment and food on his back as he makes the arduous 208-mile trek from London to Chorley, stopping to eat when he’s hungry and sleep when he’s tired.

The construction consultant will be joined at various points along the way by friends and well-wishers, including pal Lea Turner who will join him for the final 50 miles.

The epic walk will raise money for Derian House Children’s Hospice in Chorley, a charity which offers palliative and end-of-life care to children across the North west, helping them to make the most of every moment.

Starting out from Westminster on Wednesday, 22 July, Nik will work his way up the country, walking around 25 miles per day, picking up his walking mate Lea in Crewe.

The pair will cross the finish line together at the hospice in Chorley on Saturday afternoon, bringing with them dozens of toys for the children who stay there.

Nik said: “I’m in awe of the work the staff and volunteers at Derian House do and feel humble that I’m able to do help the wonderful children and families who receive care there. It’s important to me that my own children – Holly, 13 and Henry, 6 – grow up understanding how lucky they are.”

Nik is no stranger to adventure, having previously completed endurance walking events and sleep outs for charity.

The walk actually came about after the coronavirus pandemic meant the cancellation of his planned 2,000 mile walk from Mexico to Canada. Not to be deterred, Nik decided to take on a UK-based walk to raise money for charity instead.

An influential presence on social media networking site LinkedIn, Nik often inspires others with his talks on resilience and the importance of kindness, after having a tough upbringing.

He said: “I had a difficult childhood and was going down the wrong path. It all came to a head when I lost my job and my relationship in one day and the trauma of the past resurfaced. I decided to make a change and signed up to do a half-marathon. People laughed at me because I’d never done anything like that before, but it made me feel better. I realised that in helping others I had found a resilience I wouldn’t have had just by helping myself.”

Nik’s determination will no doubt put him in good stead to cope with whatever the London to Lancashire walk throws at him.

“Not finishing isn’t an option,” he continued. “On a previous endurance walk, my leg swelled up with 150 miles still to go. I hobbled to the hospital with no skin on my feet and the doctor said he couldn’t see me walking one mile out of that hospital let alone finishing the walk. But I knew that there was no way I wasn’t completing it. If my leg had fallen off, I would have hopped to the finish, because every step I took was a step away from everything I had been through in the past.

“I tell my story because my goal is to teach people that kindness shouldn’t be an option, it should be a way of life. The world is a wonderful place full of wonderful people, it’s just up to us to find it.”

Lea Turner, 35, from Sussex, who runs an audio transcription and mentoring business, said: “I’ve been on the receiving end of Nik’s encouragement, patience and kindness. I have a large online following, like Nik, and knew that if I joined in we could raise even more money for such an incredibly deserving cause. As mother myself, I can’t imagine what these children and parents must go through, and Nik’s friendship and resilience inspired me to join him.”

Caroline Taylor, Communications Manager at Derian House Children’s Hospice, said: “We can’t wait to watch Nik and Lea cross the finish line after their epic walk. Our charity has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with a £250,000 black hole in our income caused by the cancellation of fundraising events and charity shop closures. To receive support like this is vitally important to us now more than ever to ensure we can continue caring for our families. We’re incredibly grateful to Nik and Lea for their dedication and generosity and will be cheering them along every step of the way.”

Derian House Children’s Hospice looks after more than 400 children and young people with life-limiting conditions from across the North West. Care is free for families, but services cost £4.8million to run every year. With only 7 per cent of funding coming from the government, the charity relies on the generosity of its supporters for 93p in every pound it spends. Visit www.derianhouse.co.uk for more details.

Nik and Lea aim to raise £3,000 for Derian House Children’s Hospice. You can sponsor them here:

Nik: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nmderianhouse

Lea:  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Lea-Turner