Deckie puts his best bare-foot forward

A school boy with the ‘heart of a lion’ is set to walk 23 miles barefoot to help fund pioneering treatment for children with a rare genetic condition.

Thursday, 8th October 2020, 11:09 am
Declan MacLean, Jedburgh

Nine-year-old Declan ‘Deckie’ MacLean was inspired by Major Chris Brannigan, who recently walked barefoot from Land’s End to Edinburgh Castle, raising money for research into Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS), a rare condition suffered by his young daughter Hasti.

After joining Chris on part of the Borders leg of his 700-mile mission, Deckie is set to tackle his own barefoot challenge on Wednesday, October 14, when he will walk from his hometown of Jedburgh to Kelso and back again.

“I walked with Chris into Jedburgh and out again the next morning,” Deckie said.

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Declan MacLean, Jedburgh

“I wanted to walk to Lauder with him but I couldn’t get back home so could only go as far as Ancrum, I was gutted as I really wanted to walk all the way. This is my way of doing my bit to help raise money, as every penny helps towards a good cause.”

Deckie’s mum Heather Morris said: “We’d been following Chris’s journey on the Facebook page and we wanted to cheer him on as he came into Jedburgh. Deckie asked if he could walk with him, but we didn’t expect him to take his shoes off! We met him a mile outside Jedburgh, and Declan decided he wanted to leave with him again in the morning. He could only go as far as Ancrum that day, but he is determined to walk the 23 miles.

“He has been doing lots of training for it – his feet are horrible! We think he’s mad, but we’re really proud of him.”

Chris, who is raising money to develop life-changing gene therapy for eight-year-old Hasti and other children with CdLS, said the arrival of Deckie had spurred him on in his own challenge in August.

“I had walked 33 days across the country. I was exhausted, my feet were aching and I was feeling sorry for myself,” he admitted.

“But when Deckie arrived on the 34th day and told me he was going to walk with me, I felt better. As my barefoot companion, he lifted my spirits on that difficult day.

“Now he is undertaking his own barefoot challenge to raise money for Hope for Hasti. After my own first day barefoot on the road I realised how painful and difficult walking barefoot was going to be. I however had the benefit of being a 40-year-old soldier. Declan is a nine-year-old boy, but he obviously has the heart of a lion to take on such an epic task to help another child.

“I’m overcome with admiration for this little man who is undertaking such a difficult challenge, driven by kindness and the desire to help change the future of children with CdLS.”

Deckie will set off from Jedburgh Abbey at 8.30am on Wednesday.

To support his efforts go to