A DISABLED cleric has completed the trek of nearly 900 miles from John o’Groats to Land’s End in a wheelchair, in 14 days (News, 19 August).
The Vicar of St John’s, Bransholme, in Hull, the Revd Matt Martinson, who is 42, survived gale-force winds in the Highlands, drenching spray from heavy lorries on the A30, and a final three-mile slog up the last hill to reach the most westerly point of mainland England at the end of last month. Even a broken wheel on the early stages near Inverness, which took three days to fix, failed to put him off.
”It was absolutely amazing,” Mr Martinson said. He has not walked since he woke up one morning six years ago with no feeling in his legs. “It was really exciting. It’s made me want to do more, maybe next summer. I love being outside, and it’s a long time since I have been able to do that. I was a keen hill-walker, and it has reignited that passion; but I have got to try to find a way of doing it: tracks are not made for wheels.
”I came near to packing in when the wheel broke. I was despondent, I didn’t think I was going to get it fixed. But the suppliers promised to get it sorted, and they did. There were hills where it was really hard, but I just told myself ‘Come on,’ and eventually I got up them.
”The worst was the very last hill in Cornwall. It took me four-and-a-half hours to get up it. I was absolutely knackered, but I just got my head down and carried on with no stops.”
His solo journey has raised about £16,000 towards a refurbishment
of his church. “The public along the way were absolutely brilliant, offering me drinks, food, places to stay. If I needed anything, they were willing to get it for me. I learned lots about myself along the way. I am quite an independent person, but I realised that I do need to ask for help.”
He said he was surprised how much he had missed his wife, Hayley, and his son, Seth, “even though I knew they were with me in spirit every bit of the way”; but the solitude had allowed him to renew his relationship with God.
”Doing the parish stuff, everything gets so busy, and things get squeezed out. Being able to have that time with God again was really nice. But it was straight back to church duties on Sunday. That was great. The welcome back and the encouraging words have been amazing.”