Fife man's emotional trek to Ireland raises thousands for Alzheimer charity
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Michael Cunningham, from Glenrothes, walked more than 230 miles from Cardenden to Raphoe in Ireland where his grandfather, Vincent Hamilton, was born.
He took on the challenge following his grandfather's passing in February. He took just seven and a half days to cover the distance and raised more than £3400 for Alzheimer's Scotland along the way.
Michael received a hero's welcome from family, friends and residents of the town, with the members of the town even presenting Michael with the Raphoe medal and a book and DVD on the history of the place.
Michael said: “It just blew my mind a bit. I’m still trying to process it all. There are just too many people to thank. It was just so kind of everybody.”
There was even a bagpipe entrance as he entered town with his cousin Susie and nephew Ryan, who accompanied Michael for the last few miles of the walk. Family friend Christy piped him into the town, marking the end of an emotional journey.
Michael explained: “As we were walking into Raphoe, we could hear the hum of the pipes. They were tight lipped because they didn’t want to ruin the surprise, but I heard them start to play Scotland the Brave.
“Christy has been a family friend for a long, long, long time and welcomed us as we came into Raphoe. It was really emotional as we walked down”.
However, the hospitality didn’t just start when Michael reached his destination. He was welcomed right across the country as he travelled through Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
He explained: “It was absolutely incredible. People could see you walking and obviously it was so hot so they were out in their gardens enjoying the sunshine and offering you water or ice creams, food, somewhere to rest.”
Michael also carried one of Vincent’s scarves with him on the journey, and presented it to his grandfather’s brother, Eunan.
He said: “He looked really chuffed and really proud and gave me the biggest hug.”
Michael’s fundraiser is still open at: https://www.justgiving.com/page/michael-cunningham-1680884413255