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OAP pilgrimage to help autistic children

PUBLISHED: 11:43 08 June 2007 | UPDATED: 14:33 07 September 2010

FORTIS Green resident Bill Tyler this week set off on a massive trek for Treehouse, travelling 780km through the Spanish countryside. The former architect, 73, will take 30 days to complete the pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago to

By Simon Jackson

FORTIS Green resident Bill Tyler this week set off on a massive trek for Treehouse, travelling 780km through the Spanish countryside.

The former architect, 73, will take 30 days to complete the pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago to raise funds for the Muswell Hill school for autistic children and the North London Hospice.

"One of my most memorable holidays was as an architectural student motorbiking around France and visiting some of the magnificent mediaeval churches and the cathedrals on the pilgrim routes leading to Santiago de Compostela," Mr Tyler said.

"Brian Sewell's TV programme on France and Spain made me think about doing it all on foot as three years ago I walked the Inca Trail for the National Autistic Society as a fundraising exercise.

"Having raised £14,000 for that charity I thought a 500 mile walk would be a suitable fundraising exercise to give people something to bite on.

"I have an autistic nephew and I know TreeHouse has a wonderful programme for teaching autistic children and I believe the walk is really worth doing as the hospice movement is in desperate need of funds and heavily relies on private subscription."

Located on the Iberian Peninsula in Spain's North West, Santiago de Compostela's cathedral is reputedly the final resting place of Jesus Christ's apostle St James the Great after which Camino de Santiago, or St James' Way, is named.

Mr Tyler has been preparing for the journey by taking long walks wearing a weighted backpack and regularly hikes up the steep slope leading to Alexandra Palace. But he is looking forward to some company on his big challenge.

"People are constantly doing the pilgrim trail and you meet people along the way," he said, "which is preferable as with more organised tours people are walking at different speeds."

During the month long trek Mr Tyler's accommodation will be in refugios, the local hostels, or in monasteries.

Anyone wishing to support Mr Tyler's fundraising efforts should go to the website www.justgiving.com/billtyler.

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