A 76-year-old walker showed that age really is just a number when she tackled the 96-mile West Highland Way to raise funds for the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity.
Carol Makin was inspired to complete one of the UK’s most challenging long-distance trails by a 100-year-old friend who wisely confided that she only regretted the things she hadn’t done in life. Undeterred by the gruelling route, which stretches 154km from Milngavie to Fort William in Glasgow, Carol signed up to participate with a guided walking group.
Carol, of Bramley in Rotherham, and a former teacher at Brinsworth Manor Junior School and Bramley Sunnyside Junior School, completed the challenge in seven days from 5 June, raising £1,000.
“Once I’d signed up, I did wonder what on earth I’d let myself in for. But I thought about what I used to say to my pupils; believe in yourself and follow your dreams. I knew I must do the same.
“The Coronavirus pandemic delayed the walk many times, but I was finally given the green light in May and had five weeks to prepare. I’ve always thought that age is just a number, and I was determined to show that you can do anything at any age if you’re determined enough. I’m naturally an outdoorsy person, a character trait I get from my mum, who was born on a farm, so I knew that would stand me in good stead.
“It was certainly a massive challenge but something I’ll never forget. The scenery along the route was absolutely spectacular. I met some brilliant people along the way, including a group of young men who clubbed together and boosted my fundraising pot by £100.
“The most challenging part was, of course, the iconic six-mile Devil’s Staircase. It was devilish! Someone suggested it might be too challenging for me, so I thought, ‘I’ll show you.’
“I appreciated the beautiful scenery and just how far I’d walked as I looked at the terrain on the train back from Fort William to Glasgow. I couldn’t believe what I’d achieved – I still feel incredibly proud.
“My family, friends and neighbours have been very generous, so thank you to everyone who has sponsored me. I’m delighted to have raised so much for my local NHS charity. I wanted to do it because so many of my ex-pupils have been cared for at the hospital. This challenge was for them, and I really hope I inspire other people to give something new a go for charity too.”
All the money raised by Carol will help to boost the charity’s Purple Butterfly Appeal, which funds end of life care, including dedicated Purple Butterfly rooms, at Rotherham Hospital.
There are currently four Purple Butterfly rooms at the hospital located on ward A1, Fitzwilliam, ward B11 and the Labour Suite. The specialist rooms, which include a kitchenette, a sofa bed and a private bathroom, provide privacy, dignity and space for families when it really matters the most.
Suzanne Rutter, Charity Engagement and Development Manager, also said:
“We are incredibly proud of all our fundraisers at the charity, but at 76-years-old, Carol really is an inspiration. To hike for seven days along such challenging terrain and to survive the Devil’s Staircase is no mean feat. Thank you to everyone who cheered her on or sponsored her. Hopefully, she has inspired other people, whatever their age, to tackle a life-changing charity challenge too.”