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Why Les is walking 500 miles for epilepsy

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Rhia Arden

Why Les is walking 500 miles for epilepsy

Les Gibbie is 76 years old and is grandfather to six children, one of whom has refractory epilepsy. He is taking on a 500 mile walk across Northern Spain for five weeks to raise money for Epilepsy Society. Here, Les talks about why he has decided to take on this challenge.

Epilepsy connections

My granddaughter has refractory epilepsy, which is extremely rare. She is 18 this year and she has never walked, can't feed herself, can't go to the toilet and has never spoken.

My son and daughter-in-law have never felt the joy from hearing her say "Mum" or "Dad". She needs attention 24 hours a day because of her seizures.

In spite of all this, she is a joy to be with, always happy and totally innocent.

I try to help where I can, but can do so little that I feel almost useless. That is why I am attempting this journey; I feel that epilepsy gets very little, if any, publicity and so the vast majority of people, unless they know someone affected by it, do not know what a debilitating condition it is

White haired man looking into the camera.

Raising awareness

I am going to try and make more people aware of the condition by attempting to walk across Northern Spain in May and June this year, from the Pyrenees Mountains to the Atlantic Coast. It is a distance of 500 miles, at the rate of 15 miles per day, every day for five weeks.

I will be following an ancient pilgrimage route of the Camino de Santiago, which has been trodden by millions of pilgrims since AD950 to the present day. Nowadays, most do it not for religious reasons, while others, like myself, do it for secular reasons.

I am due to leave for Spain on 13 May and start my journey on 18 May. I hope that I can raise public awareness of epilepsy through this journey.

Fundraising for people with epilepsy

I am hoping to raise a large amount of money for Epilepsy Society. I ask you to help me achieve this by making a donation, however small, to them to help fund their research and new medications.

If you cannot donate, then please help me by telling other people, keeping me in your thoughts and prayers - encouraging me even though you cannot be with me in person. Together, we can reach our goal and improve the lives of tens of thousands of sufferers, their families and loved ones.

More information

Les will keep us informed of his progress throughout his journey, and we will post updates accordingly.

Update - 11/6/19: Les is over halfway through his trek and is thoroughly enjoying it. He is touched to read all of the lovely comments on social media.

Update - 2/7/19: Les says: "I have done it! After 35 days and 549 miles, I reached Santiago de Compostela on 21st June on schedule. It was a lot tougher than I thought it would be, but the thought of why and who I was doing it for inspired me to keep going. I thank Epilepsy Society for their encouragement and support which was a great help to me. A lot of people on the route said they thought I was doing a really worthwhile thing and some said they would send a donation to the Epilepsy Society. A young man named Ben, who has a mild form of epilepsy, said that I inspired him and he was going to run the whole route next year on behalf of the charity. I really hope he does. As to me doing another 500 miles, I am already looking at doing a longer route from Southern Spain next year, fingers crossed."

Congrautlations to Les!

The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Epilepsy Society.


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