A DISABLED vicar plans to propel his wheelchair from John o’Groats to Land’s End to raise funds for a new church.
The Vicar of St John’s, Bransholme, Hull, the Revd Matthew Martinson (below), has not walked since he woke up one morning six years ago with no feeling in his legs. Previously, he had undergone operations for prolapsed discs, trapped nerves, and other spinal and pelvic problems.
He believes that his condition could be a result of his chaotic early life, which included drug-taking, sleeping rough, and being sentenced to 11 years for armed robbery. It was while he was in prison that he came to God, and six years ago was ordained.
“When I was in prison in 1996,” he said, “I did a sponsored walk round the exercise yard. Someone had told me no one could walk 100 miles in under 24 hours, but I said they could. I couldn’t get 24 hours out of my cell, but they gave me 12 hours to walk 50 miles. I did it in 11 hours 23 mins.
“Ever since then, I have always wanted to do John o’Groats to Land’s End, but when I ended up in a wheelchair I thought I never would. However, earlier this year, I just felt the need to try. My wife, Haley, and our son, Seth, think I am mad, but they both understand why I want to do it, and totally and utterly support me, as does my bishop, Alison White.”
He hopes to raise £25,000 towards a £250,000 fund to either refurbish St John’s, or replace it with a building more suitable for community use. His progress will be logged on his website, www.end-to-end.co.uk, and on Facebook.
He leaves Hull early next month, and needs to complete his 1200-mile trek by 26 September. “I have a communion service then, and have no one to cover for me,” he said. “I hope to do between 40 and 60 miles a day.”
An electric trike attached to his wheelchair will help during steep climbs, but the battery will only manage a maximum of 20 miles. He will also be towing a trailer holding basic supplies.
“I’m doing it totally independently, because I just want to have that time with God; so if I break down in the middle of nowhere, it’s me and God, and that’s it. I trust in God, and I have seen him do it many times, and I also trust my fellow human beings who have been generous enough to offer support and help.”