Giant steps for inspiring Brian

Brian with Torie and guide dog Ushi, Ann with guide dog Flossie, from Ballymena Fundraising Branch  and Lesley Macaulay, Regional Fundraising Manager.
Brian with Torie and guide dog Ushi, Ann with guide dog Flossie, from Ballymena Fundraising Branch and Lesley Macaulay, Regional Fundraising Manager.

When Brian Doherty heard about the time, effort and money that goes into creating a guide dog partnership he decided he wanted to do something to help.

So he decided to walk the 55 miles from his home in Rasharkin to the Giant’s Causeway to raise funds and awareness for Guide Dogs NI.

Ballymena Fundraising Branch members who cheered Brian on at Ballycastle and held a bucket collection.

Ballymena Fundraising Branch members who cheered Brian on at Ballycastle and held a bucket collection.

Brian has a very special reason for wanting to help Guide Dogs as he is on the waiting list for a dog of his own, having been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration eight years ago. Brian’s walk started from his home at 5am on Sunday 10th July, with his 19 year old son Tiernan by his side.

“We knew it was going to be a long day so we were really keen to get going,” said Brian. “Tiernan and I had a few friends with us so the craic was great – we got soaked a few times but spirits were that high. It was a real challenge that tested even the fittest athlete among us but the time just flew by.”

Lesley Macaulay from Guide Dogs NI said: “We met Brian in Ballycastle at 4pm for the last leg of his journey and you wouldn’t have known that he had already walked over 40 miles. He was in such good spirits and seeing the supporters seemed to give him even more of a boost.”

At that point 35 new walkers joined Brian for the final 12 miles to the Giant’s Causeway. There was a real family atmosphere with supporters of all ages.

Pictured is the group of walkers.

Pictured is the group of walkers.

“The atmosphere for the final was fantastic,” said Brain. “I have been really humbled by how my lcoal communities have come together to support me. There’s been an awful lot of work that has gone into setting this up and I’d really like to thank Terry Hasson from Rasharkin Healthy Club who has been behind me every step of the way.”

Brian made it to the finish line, the Giant’s Causeway at 7.15pm with 55 miles and over 14 hours of walking under his belt, walking the last few miles flanked by his children, twins Tiernan and Mairead (19). “I was the proudest dad in the world, finishing with the twins at my side. The last five miles was a real slog but I was determined to finish on a high,” said Brian. “I wanted to prove to myself that even with my sight loss I can still achieve anything I set my mind to and I feel that I have done that.”

Lesley Macaulay from Guide Dogs NI added: “We’re so proud of Brian. It was a really emotional moment watching him cross the finish line. By challenging himself Brian has raised nearly £3,000 for Guide Dogs NI but more importantly has inspired us all with his determination.”

If you’d like to, you can still support Brian by heading over to his Justgiving page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Brians55milewalk