A FATHER-OF-THREE who celebrated his 60th birthday by walking the coast-to-coast route for charity will receive an extra surprise today (Monday, June 30).
Almost every Sunday, since the beginning of March, Alan McCree, of Fishburn, has walked sections of the 192-mile route from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire.
He completed the final stretch on his birthday yesterday (Sunday, June 29) and was joined at the finish by family and friends for a champagne toast.
And, as a further surprise, Mr McCree’s wife, Rita, 52, contacted The Northern Echo and arranged for a story detailing his adventures to appear in the newspaper.
“I am not one for being soppy or romantic so I think he will be very surprised,” she said.
“I just want him to know how much we love and appreciate him.”
Passionate about walking, Mr and Mrs McCree have spent many a weekend tramping around the countryside and had often spoken about traversing the route devised by Lake District fell wanderer Alfred Wainwright.
The walk passes through three national parks and is famous for its beautiful and varied scenery.
Mrs McCree said: “Besides family, walking is Alan’s true love. We decided to do it, but we wanted to take our time over it and really absorb the landscape. You hear about people completing it in two weeks, but we weren’t interested in that.”
Accompanied by their son Patrick, 17, and friends, Chris and Maria Ebblewhite, the couple, who also have two daughters Kimberely (CORR), 28, and Gemma, 31, embarked on the challenge, walking up to 20 miles each time.
However, on the fourth week, while walking between Grasmere and Patterdale in Cumbria, Mrs McCree slipped and broke her ankle, preventing her from completing the walk.
And, during another memorable walk, Mr McCree, a joiner, discovered that Kimberely had gone into labour.
The couple’s first grandchild, Arthur, was born the next day.
By completing the challenge, Mr McCree has not only realised a lifelong dream, he has helped secure hundreds of pounds in sponsorship for Jake’s Road to Recovery.
The appeal was launched by the family of Wingate youngster Jake Truman, who requires specialist chairs and walking frames after suffering a brain seizure.
Mrs McCree said: “People have been very generous. I would like to thank everyone who has made a donation or supported Alan during the walk.”