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80-year-old charity walker takes on 21st Gower Macmarathon challenge

80-year-old charity walker takes on 21st Gower Macmarathon challenge to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support

Eighty-year-old John Llewellyn is fast approaching a remarkable charity milestone, as he prepares to take on his 21st Gower Macmarathon for Macmillan Cancer Support.

When John completes the Gower Macmarathon on Saturday 14 September, he will have walked an incredible 500-miles to raise funds for the charity that provides physical, financial and emotional support to people living with cancer.

Born and raised in Swansea, John is the oldest walker to have signed up to take part in the Gower Macmarathon which takes walkers on a scenic hike along the stunning Gower peninsula.

John is driven to raise money for Macmillan Cancer support after the charity supported his father Tom during his cancer treatment. Speaking about the support his father received, John said: “My father died in 1986 from lung cancer and received tremendous support from the Macmillan staff. He had the same Macmillan nurse throughout his treatment, it’s always nice if you see the same person and they couldn’t have been better.”

To date, John has raised over £2,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

A keen walker, John has walked every inch of the Welsh coastline from Worm’s Head to Anglesey, as well as walking the length of Offa’s Dyke.

John has completed all but one 22-mile Gower Macmarathon since he first took on the hiking challenge in 1998.  He missed one year because he had suffered a double heart attack that year. Commenting on his health scare, John said: “Having a double heart attack made me realise the importance of keeping fit and carry on what I love doing – which is walking.”

John also found that his love for walking the Gower Macmarathon was a way for him to contribute to his father’s loss, as well as raising money for Macmillan. He said: “I feel like a lot of people walk, like myself, because they know someone who’s been affected by cancer and it’s a tremendous cause. I want to contribute to Macmillan Cancer Support for their help and found a love for the Gower Macmarathon”

Although John walks the Gower Macmarathon on his own, he said: “I walk alone but there is a great community feeling about the day, if anybody is in trouble, everyone chips in and pulls together, for example I always have plasters on me just in case anyone needs them.”

“The walk is always enjoyable and when you get towards the end and hear the music you feel like you could walk another 10 miles and a tremendous relief!”

Previously John’s career varied from working for Swansea Borough Council to H.M. Customs and Excise, as well as helping in his brother’s wedding car company for 28 years.

For John, a way to de-stress was walking. He said: “I used to work in a high stress job and get home and walk for an hour and would feel a lot happier less stressed.

“There is a Latin saying ‘Solvitur ambulando’ which means ‘it is solved by walking’, which I wholeheartedly agree with.’’

Richard Pugh, Head of Services for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said: “What a remarkable and inspiring man John is. To be taking on the challenge of completing the 22-mile Gower Macmarathon for the 21st time at 80 years old is impressive.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to John for taking on this challenge and raising money for Macmillan so that we can be there for people with cancer and their loved ones.

“Macmillan is here to help everyone with cancer to live their life as fully as they can thanks to incredible fundraisers like John.

“We can only fund our services thanks to generosity such as theirs and I’d remind anyone who needs support, information or a chat with Macmillan to call us free on 0808 808 0000.”

If you would like to be involved in the Gower Macmarathon and join other walkers like John by taking on the 14 or 22-mile challenge to raise money and awareness for Macmillan Cancer Support, then go to www.macmillan.org.uk/gower or email [email protected].