In for a penny,
in for a pound!
MacCarthy’s Bar had a special visitor at the end of February 2019 – Karen Penny, from the Gower Peninsula in Wales, who was on a 20,000-mile walk around the coasts of Britain and Ireland to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Karen (pictured, right, in MacCarthy's Bar, and below) expects the walk – including 20 of the largest islands – to take about four years: ‘A feat never achieved by a woman, least of all by one on the wrong side of 50!’ she says.
It’s part of her aim to raise a total of £100,000 for the UK’s leading dementia research charity. Having already run a marathon and walked from John O'Groats to Land's End and raised £6,000, she felt that, after having retired from the legal profession, she could raise much more money with the time she had available.
Using Ordnance Survey and Google Maps to plan her route, she hoped local people along the way would put her up – as Adrienne and Niki MacCarthy did at MacCarthy’s Bar – and that local walking groups would help her with local knowledge. While in Castletownbere she visited Bere Island.
Her trek began in mid-January 2019, following the Wales Coast Path to Fishguard to cross to Rosslare and spend six to eight months walking around Ireland and Northern Ireland. She will then return to Wales and head for Scotland. She was planning to walk about 15 miles a day, seven days at a time and then take a rest day.
‘My husband's parents both died from dementia-related illnesses and it had a massive effect on me,’ Karen says. ‘Alzheimer's is something that touches nearly every family. It is a horrible illness and many families simply have not got the resources to care for someone who develops it.’
Karen works as a volunteer for many local causes: the National Trust as a volunteer ranger to help safeguard the Gower Peninsula; as a trustee of a local charity which helped to raise nearly £40,000 to save a local library; and as a school governor at her local primary school which was starting a project to follow her walk.
In 2017, Alzheimer's and other dementia became the leading cause of death in the UK. With no treatments to stop or cure them, these are diseases that no-one has yet survived.