Cumbrian man takes on 630 miles for his 60th

Cumbrian man John Barrett is shunning the usual 60th birthday celebrations in favour of a 630-mile hike.

John in a Leonard Cheshire tshirt on his walk

The retired assistant director of children’s services at Cumbria County Council will take on the infamous South West coastal path from Tuesday 18 May, staying at a whopping 45 campsites along the way. He will be raising money for the pan-disability charity Leonard Cheshire.

John, who hails from the village of Allithwaite, said:

“I wanted to do something to mark being 60. The South West Coastal Path is roughly 600 miles so 600 @ 60 seemed appropriate!”

John will set off from Minehead in Somerset and finish at South Haven Point at Poole Harbour, Dorset on Tuesday 20 July. He will hit the big 6-0 during July as he nears the end of his hike.

He said:

“I decided it would be a great opportunity to support Leonard Cheshire. My father told me about Leonard Cheshire the man when I was a child. He also said he had met him. Leonard Cheshire’s personal story fascinated me.

"As an adult I came across the charity working with disabled people. I was impressed with its ethos and what I saw as its aim to enable people with disabilities to live as independently as possible; to have the best life they could with as much control as they could.”

Disability is an issue close to John’s heart:

“My work has given me the opportunity to be involved with children with learning disabilities and physical disabilities for most of my career, as a teacher and as a local authority officer. I went on to manage children’s disability services in Cumbria. Now we are retired, my wife and I provide some respite care.”

For the last months, he’s been busy training by walking around the local area with a big rucksack on.

“It’s raised some eyebrows during lockdown! It might be the tent on top that caused the bemused expressions,” he said. “Before the pandemic, I’ve done a few other shorter journeys on foot and really enjoyed it. The most recent was the West Highland Way.”

John says lots of supportive messages and encouragement is helping him get ready to take on his challenge- along with a very understanding wife, Anne.

Anne commented:

 “The family are really proud of him. I knew he wanted to do the walk and to use it as a chance to raise money for charity. I’m looking forward to joining him on a short section, but this is a genuine solo effort. I hope people will get behind him and donate. He has had great support so far.”

To donate to John’s fundraising efforts, visit his JustGiving page.

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