BY Peter Diamond | November 16 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

6-FR-DOUGAN

Fab four’s walk raises £60,000

A Catholic priest from a parish in Rutherglen has raised £60,000 with three friends after completing a gruelling 96-mile trek from Milngavie to Fort William.

Fr Frank Dougan, parish priest of St Mark’s and St Anthony’s Churches in Motherwell Diocese, completed the West Highland Way at the end of September with friends Stevie Kilcoyne, Paul Wiggins and Gordon McHugh.

The fantastic four went through five days of ups and downs, both physically and mentally, as they raised funds for Kilbryde Hospice and the Celtic FC Foundation.

They began their five-day challenge on September 20, just after Storm Ali—which had been causing havoc earlier in the week—had subsided.

The group were blessed with good, dry weather as they kicked off their walk, although they did have to contend with some of the debris left by the storm on their route.

Over the course of the five-day trek, they walked an average of almost 20 miles per day, taking in some truly breathtaking sights on the way such as Beinglas Falls, the Bridge of Orchy and Rannoch Moor.

On day three, the group was paid a welcome visit by Celtic FC Foundation chief executive, Tony Hamilton, as he joined them for breakfast in Crianlarich.

After a quick catch up, it was back at it for Fr Dougan, Stevie, Paul and Gordon, as they continued their progress despite some heavy legs.

After an incredibly challenging five days, and with plenty of aches and pains, the fantastic four finally arrived in Fort William on September 24 where they were provided with complimentary access to the shower facilities, as well as a well-earned free lunch at the Nevis Centre.

Upon completion of the challenge, the group were quick to express their thanks to everyone who supported them along the way, from generous donations to simple acts of kindness to make the journey more comfortable.

Fr Dougan said: “This was yet another chance for me to see how lucky I am to be a priest.

“Firstly, the walk itself was a chance to get closer to God in his glorious creation and in the company of good people.

“I said a good few decades of the Rosary—aloud or just quietly—when faced with some of the harder parts, but there is something lovely about the comfortable solitude in company with friends and with God that you experience on long walks.

“Secondly, in the generosity of people. People, including my parishioners, were so kind in their individual donations.

“The Catholic Faith is well expressed by people who look out from themselves to help others and, yet again, so many people did just that.

“A special mention should go to the gift of plasters I received: my feet were very grateful!”

Speaking of the group’s achievement, Tony Hamilton, chief executive of Celtic FC Foundation, said: “The effort that this group has made not only in taking on this challenge but also in raising funds for the two charities has been truly outstanding.

“I had the pleasure of spending a short time with them during their walk and I have huge admiration for what they managed to achieve. Celtic FC Foundation is extremely proud of their efforts and so grateful for their support.”

West Highland Way walker and Kilbryde Hospice CEO, Gordon McHugh added: “It was nothing short of an honour to walk with three very special people. It was certainly a challenge but a fantastic experience;. The camaraderie and prayers got us through each day.”

The four walkers were delighted to attend Celtic’s SPFL fixture against Hibernian recently, where they were invited onto the pitch at half-time to present cheques to both charities (above).

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