A devoted dad from Heatherside has said he will walk 500 miles during the course of seven weeks in support of his disabled son.
Laurence Smith, of Pendragon Way, is preparing to trek through the Pyrenees mountain range between France and Spain to raise funds for a care home that looks after his son, Jeremy, who has severe physical and learning disabilities.
He hopes the feat, starting in July, will raise £35,000 towards a dining room extension at the Woodcock Dell Avenue Care Home in Kenton, Middlesex, where Jeremy and his fellow residents currently eat their meals in cramped conditions.
Mr Smith has not only appealed for the local community to support him but also encouraged keen walkers in the Camberley area to consider making the journey with him as a trekking companion.
He said that Norwood, the Jewish charity that runs the care home, depends on donations to maintain or improve its quality of care but has experienced tough times due to ‘austerity Britain’.
“Carers receive little credit for the work they do. Many are earning close to the minimum wage for doing work that impacts positively on the lives of people who would otherwise have no quality of life.”
Jeremy was born microcephalic (with an unusally small head) and has profound learning difficulties as well as cerebral palsy and epilepsy. He also suffers from other health problems associated with microcephaly, a condition that made headlines recently when it was linked to the South American outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
He grew up in Camberley and was a former pupil at Portesbery School until 2010. Since leaving school, he has lived at Woodcock Dell but regularly returns to Camberley to see his family and friends.
Mr Smith plans to trek along a route known as the Grand Randonee 10, which follows the French-Spanish border. On a typical day, he will walk around 13 miles, ascending and descending around 1,000 metres.
He explained that the full 540-mile route involves the equivalent of climbing and descending Mount Everest six times.