A man whose father received palliative care at the Christchurch ‘Mac Unit’ has walked the 192-mile Coast to Coast trail to raise money for the hospice.
Computer software coach Steve Katon took two weeks to walk the famous un-signposted route starting at St Bees on the Irish Sea and ending at Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea. His adventure took him through the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors and involved ‘wild’ camping beside mountain tarns (small lakes). It has also raised an incredible £2705 for Macmillan Caring Locally, the charity which supports the Mac Unit.
Steve, who lives in Nottingham, said: “I’ve always liked fell walking and I’ve always wanted to do the Coast to Coast. And after my dad passed away my wife Carmel suggested I do it to raise some money for the hospice.”
Steve’s parents John and Marie Katon lived in Blenheim Court, Christchurch, a stone’s throw from the Mac Unit. Unfortunately, John developed lung cancer with a secondary tumour on his brain and attended the Unit firstly as a day patient, then as an in-patient in February 2020.
Steve said: “The staff in the Mac Unit were just lovely. We witnessed up-close the incredible care and compassion these angels give to those at the end of their lives and those who are staying behind.”
“Everyone was so supportive and caring. Dad loved chatting with them all and the highlight of his day was the arrival of the ‘jolly’ trolley. I truly remember the whole experience as largely positive and I know my mum, my sisters, their husbands, dad’s grandsons, my wife and daughters and all of my dad’s friends felt the same.”
Steve continued: “My dad simply loved people and was immensely generous. You only had to show a small interest in any of his possessions and he’d give it to you. We once got out of a taxi at the airport in Corfu and he’d given his jacket to the driver just because he’d said he liked it! He would have been really pleased I decided to do the Coast to Coast for the hospice to thank them for all they did for our family and many hundreds’ more families each year.”
Steve completed the first seven days of the Coast to Coast with Carmel, their youngest daughter Annie, 11 and the family dog Heidi. He continued on alone when Carmel took Annie back to start school.
“The ‘high’ point was definitely tackling the almost vertical scramble up Helvellyn in the Lake District which stands at 980 metres above sea level,” he said. “I also loved sleeping in a tiny tent and cooking on a little stove. Although getting to the end and seeing Carmel and Heidi again and having a cold beer was such a good feeling.”
Steve has more than tripled his fundraising target of £750, already raising £2705.
He said: “We have all been absolutely amazed by how generous people have been and I also received so many messages of support which really made the hard miles seem much easier.”
Neal Williams, Trust Secretary of Macmillan Caring Locally, said: “We are full of admiration for Steve. His challenge was a very fitting tribute to his wonderful father John and we are deeply grateful for his incredible donation, which will go towards our Brick by Brick appeal to create a new, modern hospice which will enable us to care for even more people and their families in the years to come.”
Steve can still be sponsored via the link: https://tinyurl.com/4pt4cx6x
Picture captions – Steve Katon and his late dad John Katon, who was cared for in his final days by the staff of the Mac Unit in Christchurch.