A man has recently completed an amazing charity walk from the north of England to Poland. Gordon Wilson walked 1537.7 kilometres on the charity trek, which took him more than two months.
Gordon began his odyssey outside Leeds Town Hall on 1st September and finished it in the Polish city of Poznan on 12th November. He passed through four countries: Britain, Holland, Germany and Poland, and even managed to pay a visit to County Durham.
Gordon, who is also a keen juggler, has so far made over £3,000 for the Lions Clubs International Foundation.
Gordon got the idea to do the walk after deciding to leave his teaching job in Manchester. He and his Polish wife, Ela, were moving to Poznan, where they had lived before.
Gordon said, “When you leave a job with savings, anything is possible – well, almost, my wife didn’t want me to go and do anything dangerous. So I decided to go straight home – on foot! How could she object?”
“Initially, she thought I was joking, but soon realised it was going ahead and was very supportive.”
Gordon was amazed by the generosity of the people he met. He said, “In Germany, as I was walking along, people sometimes pulled up and asked me what I was doing. After I’d explained, they often donated money – 10, 20, once even 100 Euros!”
“Many people stopped to chat to me, with six people actually inviting me into their homes as a complete stranger to feed me and offer me rest.”
“This generally was accompanied with being made to feel like a real part of the family and included in family activities.”
On the walk, Gordon did have a few odd experiences. He once surprised a farmer in Yorkshire who spotted Gordon sleeping in his field.
“When I saw you stretched out in there,” the farmer said, “I thought you were dead!”
Another time, Gordon got talking to an old lady in a village in Poland. The lady invited him in for coffee and was telling him all about village life when Gordon’s phone rang.
“It was my wife! She had followed my GPS beacon and was driving up and down the road worried as she couldn’t see me. I told her I’d come outside. I encouraged the elderly lady to join me and to her delight she saw my wife pull up on her nicely tended verge.”
“Ela told me she had a gift for me in the car. ‘What gift?’ I asked with surprise. Inside was a pile of bedding. I said, ‘It’s a lovely thought, but I really can’t take on more weight.’ Then the bedding moved and my cousin David emerged who I thought was in Newcastle! Well, the elderly lady was now in complete shock!”
“There was so much love and excitement shared before the lady went back inside to check she wasn’t dreaming! Ela drove off and David and I spent the next three days together walking along roads and forest paths.”
The trek was, however, sometimes tough going. Gordon suffered from shin splints and was hospitalised in Germany after drinking from a polluted stream. After leaving hospital, he decided to have a break and flew to Newcastle, where his wife was staying with his cousin.
Gordon said, “It was the first ever Easy Jet flight from Berlin to Newcastle and as such was not very well-filled. I spent my two hours talking to one of the other guests and juggling up and down the aisle.”
“On landing, we were showered by two fire engines – something not unusual for a virgin flight – but quite unnerving for those inside. There was a group of paparazzi outside and I went down the stairs juggling.”
Ela, however, didn’t know he was coming and Gordon surprised her in a pub where she was having lunch.
“Sneaking up to the table quietly, I presented her with flowers. What amazement! It was a wonderful experience!”
“We stayed in a small village for a few days and took a day trip to Durham, where we explored the cathedral and the new visitors’ centre as well as admiring the market and cobbled streets.”
His legs now free of pain, Gordon headed back to Germany and restarted his walk. He arrived at Poznan Town Hall accompanied by a crowd of friends who’d joined him for the last 10 kilometres. His arrival was filmed by a local TV station and this resulted in Gordon and Ela enjoying a certain amount of fame in Poland. They have appeared in a number of newspapers and been interviewed on breakfast television.
The cash Gordon Wilson has raised will be divided between two Lions Clubs International Foundation projects. The Lions’ Disaster Relief project gets emergency supplies to people hit by disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes and floods. It also helps with the long-term rebuilding of the communities affected. The Humanitarian Efforts project works with disabled people and fights diseases like measles and diabetes.
You can find out more about Gordon’s adventures at his blog or follow him on twitter at #walkingforpeaceandhumanity.