Virtual charity walk of 1,000 miles to Italy

A Ruskington man who has been diagnosed with a life-threatening lung disease has set himself the challenge of walking to Italy, virtually, for a good cause.

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Paul Osborne, 66, began the 1,000-mile endeavour on January 1, initially without a charity in mind.

“Over the past three years, I have tried so hard to walk the 1,000-mile challenge run by Country Walking magazine, however, I was always unsuccessful due to having breathing problems. As my breathing was not getting any better, I decided to go for it again, hoping that it would help,” he said.

With Paul being classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’, he knew he would have to complete at least the first part of the walk while shielding inside his home (he can now go for local walks under the Government’s Covid-19 roadmap).

To make the experience more interesting, he chose a virtual destination of Pisa and his wife planned a route on Google Maps.

Just five days into the walk, however, Paul was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which the lungs become scarred and breathing becomes increasingly difficult.

“My wife Anne and I looked up the disease on the web, which is never a good thing to do, we were both shocked to find that the life expectancy is three-five years,” he said. “Pulmonary fibrosis has no cure, however if you are suitable for treatment, there are some medications that can slow down its progression. Since then I have been placed on ambulatory oxygen as my oxygen readings fall below a safe level when I walk.”

In light of his diagnosis, Paul chose to complete the walk in aid of Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis, saying the charity had supported him through his ‘tears and fears’.

Paul said: “I just wanted to build up my strength as my breathing had decreased. On finding out the diagnosis on January 5 2021 it frightened me and Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis helped me to understand the illness and give me a guide forward to what my journey through the illness would be like.

“That is why now I feel it correct to raise funds for the charity. Being placed on death row - so to speak - is not very pleasant, surrounding you in the dark clouds of the thought of death. To help me through this difficult few months before I am seen by consultants at Nottingham University Hospitals, my GP has prescribed medication for anxiety and sleepless nights.”

At the time of writing, he had covered 352 miles, taking him to Acy, France.

○ You can support Paul at www, and follow his progress on Facebook under ‘Paul’s 1000 mile walk for pulmonary fibrosis’.