A GATTONSIDE grandfather is to walk in his grandad’s footsteps to raise money for a cancer charity, writes Sally Gillespie.
Fundraiser Alistair McIntyre’s granddaughter Belle has a rare form of the disease and the six-year-old has inspired her doting grandad to walk 500 miles to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Mr McIntyre said: “This challenge is a celebration of two lives. Belle is only six-years-old and has already undergone every type of treatment you can imagine. (Grandfather) Jimmy McIntyre went on to help and support a great many miners, working with the union to secure welfare for those who were injured or suffering.”
The 54-year-old will walk and cycle from Fife to Kent this summer, just as his relative did in 1933.
Miner Jimmy McIntyre was forced to leave his pregnant wife, young son and his home in Fife to look for work in Kent, 500 miles away. Joined by two brothers and three friends, Jimmy first walked to Newcastle where they “borrowed” a bike and, with little more than the clothes they stood up in, they walked or cycled the remaining length of the country.
Once in London, Jimmy left the bike at a police station with a note requesting that it be returned to its rightful owners in Newcastle.
Now Mr McIntyre has set up the In Jimmy’s Footsteps appeal which includes other events such as a St Valentine’s Dinner next week, golf day and bungee jump.
He formed the appeal after Belle was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2011.
Mr McIntyre said: “The way Jimmy and Belle coped with the situations they found themselves in show character, strength and a determination to live.
“Many people’s lives are touched by cancer and by funding research we can increase our chances of fighting this terrible disease.”
Since being diagnosed with neuroblastoma – a cancer of the nerve cells – Belle has been undergoing treatment at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton as part of a clinical trial. Around 90 children are diagnosed with the disease each year in Britain.
The six-year-old, who lives in Canterbury in Kent, has been treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery and a stem-cell transplant.
Mr McIntyre said: “Belle is bright, funny and incredibly brave. The whole family has shown amazing strength and resilience during this difficult time and they are an inspiration to us all.”
The walk will start near the Lochore Mine where his grandfather once worked and Mr McIntyre hopes other people whose loved ones have had cancer will join him for sections.
Donna Marshall, Cancer Research UK’s volunteer manager in the Borders, said: “Jimmy and Belle have both shown remarkable determination and I know this will be matched by Alistair and his resolve to raise as much money as possible for life-saving research.
“In Jimmy’s Footsteps is a wonderfully-imaginative fundraising idea and everyone at the charity wishes Alistair and his supporters well as they embark upon their appeal.”
For more information about the walk and other fundraising events, visit: www.jimmysfootsteps.co.uk .