John’s pilgrimage of love

A HUSBAND presented cash to Rotherham Hospice after an emotional trek — ending on his late wife’s birthday after starting on their anniversary.

John Slater said the Coastal Camino de Santiago “pilgrimage” across Spain and Portugal had been a personal journey — and to have raised £890 was a big bonus.

He covered about 180 miles — walking up to 17 miles a day — on the trek in memory of Christine, who died in 2017, aged 49.

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“I had a couple of shorter days, five or seven miles,” said John (58). “I met a lot of fellow walkers, lovely people, all doing it for different reasons. They would ask if I was setting off to a certain place the next day.

“I would say I’m having a rest day, and explain about the dates. It was also better for the body, and meant I could relax some of the time.

“I’d been keeping in touch with family and friends. As I got closer to the end, the last couple of days, I did get quite emotional. I don’t mind admitting that.

“Going in to Santiago and seeing the cathedral was one of those things no camera would be good enough for.

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“The physical and emotional sides of it, the fact it had been delayed by two years, all accumulated and it did get to me a little bit.”

John set off on April 30 and crossed the finish on May 27.

The official at the end marking the Compostelas — pilgrim passports — dedicated John’s to Christine in a touching end to the journey.

“I had no blisters at all,” said John. “The only thing was my heels but I think that was a lot to do with the terrain, there’s a lot of granite, and carrying a full pack as well. The weather was challenging, 28 to 30 degrees on some days.

“Now I’ve been able to present the money to the hospice. I was really humbled by the generosity of people. I didn’t expect that much.

“We’ve done fundraising for all different charities but for this one I knew in my heart it had to be the hospice.

“It was to give something back to a place that gave such good care to Christine.”

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