Nine-year-old Declan ‘Deckie’ MacLean has now walked an incredible 67 miles barefoot to aid research into the rare genetic disorder Cornella de Lange Syndrome (CdLS), raising more than £9,500.
But his latest walk from Jedburgh to St Boswells on Saturday proved almost a step too far, even for him.
Conditions were freezing when he set off from Jedburgh Abbey and at the end of the nine miles, the youngster’s feet were blistered, battered and bruised.
Deckie is now resting up but to the astonishment of his proud mum, Heather Morris, he was still determined to go rugby training with the Jed Jaguars the day after his latest phenomenal effort.
Heather said: “He was joined at the start on Saturday by the Jed Forest rugby team and 20 of them walked with him from the Jedburgh Abbey for a way on the A68. At one point he told them to hurry up because he said they were going too slow.
“I think he was wanting to give up at one stage, you could see it in his face, but he was just determined to complete it and get to St Boswells and it was just a huge relief when he got there. He was well chuffed with himself.
“There were also three paratroopers who were doing road safety and they helped to keep him safe along the way, which was amazing. It took four hours to complete and his feet were really bad at the end and so cold.”
Deckie had originally been inspired by Major Chris Brannigan, who earlier this year walked barefoot from Land’s End to Edinburgh Castle, raising money for research into 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 went on to tackle his own barefoot challenge in October, from his hometown of Jedburgh to Kelso and back again.
Despite October’s longer distance challenge, Heather said Saturday’s latest fundraising walk proved much more daunting.
She said: “He did it even though it was very tough, very hard and very cold. Before we even started I was thinking, oh God it’s freezing here today, never minding that he was going to have to take his shoes off and walk it barefoot.
“He looked like a human turkey the time he was covered in foil at the end of it because he was freezing but he still did it. He added £350 to the cause - that was put in his bucket along the way.
“He said that even though it was a shorter distance compared to the bare-footed walk to Kelso in the autumn it was his toughest because of the hills and because it was so cold. At the end he had walked a total of 67 miles barefoot this year and I am so proud of him.”
Thankfully, Deckie is giving his feet a rest until he takes on new challenges next year.
Heather added: “He’s stopped walking and he’s giving his feet a breather but is now using his hands to make bracelets and key rings for the same cause.”