Walking Offa’s Dyke Path for BAKPA

By Pete Sayers

Well done to Pete Sayers and his wife Jacqui on completing their walk. Pete’s main aim was to encourage people to sign up to be an organ donor. In addition he raised a lot of money for BAKPA

Here is Pete’s account:

Pete and Jacqui near Chepstow

In the 1980s I was unlucky enough to have kidney failure, and in 1987 I was lucky enough to have a kidney transplant, which was done at Southmead Hospital. More than 31 years later that kidney’s still going strong, and I’ve enjoyed a normal healthy life the entire time – because the donated kidney was such a good match and because of the fantastic care I’ve received from everyone at the Southmead Renal Unit.

My wife Jacqui and I had planned to spend a fortnight in Spring 2017 walking the 177 miles of Offa’s Dyke, celebrating 30 years of my transplant and aiming to encourage as many more people as possible to join the organ donor register.

Unfortunately we each sustained injuries that prevented us from doing a long-distance walk, and we had to postpone it until Spring 2018. So earlier this year we trained hard whenever we could – some days walking up to 15 miles to build up strength and confidence – until on 27 April 2018 we caught the train to Prestatyn ready to start the long walk to Chepstow!

We chose to walk Offa’s Dyke because it marks the boundary between Wales, where there is a ‘presumed consent’ system for organ donation, and England, where people currently have to ‘opt in’. Walking this boundary was designed to draw attention to the difference, and to highlight the need for more donors; the ability to walk the whole of Offa’s Dyke demonstrates just how enabling a transplant can be.

The walk itself was in equal measure challenging and fun! It felt like a real adventure to be walking out of Prestatyn, up over the hills to leave the sea behind, heading for the next night’s accommodation. The weather was kind to us – cold and windy but dry – and the landscape glorious: we felt so lucky to be able to do the walk.

Three days’ walking through the wonderful Clwydian Range was followed by a rest day in Llangollen, where we did a live phone interview with Claire Cavanagh on the BBC Radio Bristol morning programme! It went really well and was just the type of publicity we were aiming for, prompting much discussion about organ donation during the programme.

After the rest day it was six solid days’ walking as the temperature rose, ending with an exhausting trek to Hay-on-Wye on a sweltering Bank Holiday Monday. We were joined by friends that day, and together we not only walked but also managed to rescue some lambs that had strayed into a brook and become exhausted and stuck!

A very welcome rest day in Hay was then followed by four days’ walking across the impressively high Black Mountains before heading down to Chepstow, where we were met by Colin and John from BAKPA who’d driven over from Bristol specially to welcome us – it was great to see them.

A couple more hours’ walking took us to Sedbury Cliffs, the Severn Estuary and the end of our walk – we felt sad that it was over but so happy to have been able to publicise the benefits of organ donation – and we raised over £2500 for BAKPA!

Pete Sayers

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