Charity pilgrims complete trek

Tan Parsons A TEAM of pilgrims has completed a journey to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain in aid of the Hampstead-based organisation SafeHands For Mothers. The group s founder, Nancy Durrell McKenna, of Fitzjohn s Avenue, was among a group of 2

Tan Parsons

A TEAM of pilgrims has completed a journey to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain in aid of the Hampstead-based organisation SafeHands For Mothers.

The group's founder, Nancy Durrell McKenna, of Fitzjohn's Avenue, was among a group of 20 who made the tough 80-mile trek and ended their journey at the magnificent cathedral of Santiago, where the mortal remains of St James - one of Jesus' most beloved apostles - are entombed.

She said: "Everyone who started finished the walk and there were a lot of blisters and sore quadriceps by the end. But everyone was elated.

"For the 20 pilgrims who took part, they started walking on behalf of SafeHands For Mothers but by the time they had finished it had become a personal journey for each of them.

"That's why when you finish and squeeze and hug each other it's as much your own relief as saying well done to the others."

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As well as the main group, there were also three 'extreme walkers' who completed the entire journey in just 20 hours and five extreme runners - some of whom made it to their destination even more quickly.

The main group included four Aboriginal Australians who had pledged to raise money for maternal healthcare in Ethiopia.

Each person taking part is aiming to raise a minimum of �10,000 - with the cash going towards things including new training centres in Ethiopia and making technology available to help educate people in the remotest parts of the country.

Durrell McKenna said: "I'd never done a walk quite like this myself before. My husband and I did it together.

"When we finished we walked through the archway in Santiago de Compostela and about half of the group arrived in time for the Sunday Mass. There were thousands of people in the cathedral - people from all walks of life and all nationalities."

During the route they had their documents stamped at checkpoints along the way to prove they had made the entire journey and on completing it they were each awarded a certificate.

"We realised that the discomfort we had experienced on this trip paled in comparison to the suffering endured by the women in developing countries," she added.

"It really was a pilgrimage - it was wonderful to be able to join up with other people on the way and find out what their journeys were."

Among the other travellers she met were a homeless man with two dogs who wanted to set up a homeless hostel in southern Spain, a woman who had developed acute tendonitis during the journey with her daughter, and a young man who was a member of the Knights Of Malta who had taken a vow of poverty and obedience.

The trek was sponsored by Euro Sports and Snappy Snaps in Finchley Road and organised with the help of the Midwives Information and Resource Service.

To make a donation visit www.justgiving.com/safehandswalkforlife or send a cheque payable to SafeHands for Mothers to 23 Fitzjohn's Avenue, Hampstead, NW3 5JY - if you qualify for gift aid you should also include your address.

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