Two new travelers from Northern Ireland will embark on an expedition to the Canadian Rockies to raise money for Marie Curie.
Aomi Jordan of Saintfield and Siobhan McGuire, who now lives in Crawley, will take on the challenge as part of a group of 18 in memory of their fathers on Father’s Day and the care they both received at the end of their lives through charity for the terminally ill.
The nine-day trip leaves on Saturday for Calgary. They will then hike in the Banff area and then climb Ha Ling Peak at Cranmore, Stanley Glacier, Lake Louise, Valley of the Ten Peaks, and then hike from Banff to Calgary, from where they will return home on June 26th.
Exhausting physical and mental stress will mean that the couple will cover an average of 15 km per day and overcome climbs to an altitude of 500 to 800 km.
Naomi’s father Colin Doak, a former minister and missionary, died on December 16, 2019 at the age of 62.
Three years earlier, he had been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos.
“My dad loved nature, he was always walking somewhere, kayaking or cycling,” she explained.
“The Canadian Rockies were a place that dad always wanted to visit, so when I saw that Marie Curie had a team, I knew it was a worthy tribute.
“I have never participated in any charity trips and until last year I was in the mountains only once.
“I never thought that I would be spending the weekend in Murne, as I did last year, preparing for a hike.
I will think of him every step of the way, but especially on Father’s Day. I like to think that he would be very proud of me.
“Marie Curie has provided invaluable support to my father and mother through weekly outpatient day therapy. They provided me with advice when things got too much.
“In early December, when dad was admitted to hospice, he was given incredible care. Our family couldn’t have done it without the care and support of the Marie Curie Belfast team.”
For Siobhan, her hike will be dedicated to her father, Tony, who died of lung cancer on August 28, 2017 at the age of 69.
He was cared for by Marie Curie’s nurses at his home in Mugher, County Londonderry.
“I was my dad’s little girl and was completely devastated when he died. We were lucky to spend the last days of my father’s life with him, and we were the whole family when he passed away.
“We could not get through this week without the Marie Curie nurses, their care and support, not only for him, but also for us.
“I have been walking and hiking since January preparing for the Rocky Mountains. I don’t expect it to be easy, but I know that I will feel the support of my father and my entire family along the way.
“My mom sent me a card this week telling me how proud she is of me for it and I know my dad would be too.”
They will be joined on the journey by Gavin McGucken, Marie Curie’s public fundraiser in the Belfast area.
“This year we have a fantastic group of tourists, many of whom are going with us on the second and third trips, unlike Naomi and Siobhan, who are going on their first expedition,” he said.
“Our group wanted to go out again and raise money for the services of Marie Curie in memory of loved ones. We thank them all as the pandemic has had a huge impact on our fundraising and this hike has been postponed since last year.”
Marie Curie’s bereavement support service is available free of charge on 0800 090 2309. To find out more about volunteering or raising funds for Marie Curie, visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/get-involved.