Lancaster hospice welcome home Great Wall of China team

Great Wall of China trekkers in aid of St John's Hospice in Lancaster. Picture by Andy Cruxton.
Great Wall of China trekkers in aid of St John's Hospice in Lancaster. Picture by Andy Cruxton.

Trekkers who took on the Great Wall of China in aid of St John’s Hospice received an emotional welcome home after their 10 day hike.

Greeted by cheering family and friends, the team of 31 supporters arrived safely back to the Slyne Road hospice on Tuesday after travelling nearly 24 hours from Beijing.

Families and hospice staff waiting to greet the trekkers.

Families and hospice staff waiting to greet the trekkers.

Hugs and stories were shared by the team who took part in the epic trek, organised to mark the hospice’s 30th anniversary year.

So far the team, who are now all firm friends, have raised more than £114,000.

Sue McGraw, chief executive at St John’s Hospice in Lancaster, said: “My favourite moments have been with the team, a wonderful group of people with the hospice in their hearts.”

As well as stunning views the team also witnessed a tornado during their stay in an eco lodge and were well looked after by the Chinese community.

Katie Woods hugs another member of the team.

Katie Woods hugs another member of the team.

Gary Butler, from Morecambe, who had a hip operation in January, took part in the trek in memory of his mum and dad, Margaret and Jack Butler.

He said: ““This year is 20 years since my dad died, that pushed me on quite a lot.

“Everyone of us has got on really well, friends for life I think.”

The team had to pull together when Lancaster trekker, Katie Woods slipped and broke her leg.

The mum-of-two fell on some shale during a detour from the wall as the Chinese Army were doing work on part of their route.

Katie said: “I had a few tumbles, there was lots of different terrains, a little slip, my foot went funny and then we had to trek to get through it.

“The hospital had nothing, so we found a souvenir shop and found a wooden toy sword, so we put the casing around my leg for a few days until we finally got to Beijing.”

Youngest trekker, Adam Marklowether, from Lancaster said the trek was harder than he had anticipated.

The 20-year-old said: “The Heavens Ladder wall was the hardest part of the trip, there were so many steps but the views were amazing, 360 views all around.”

During the trek the hospice twinned with the Beijing hospice who were also celebrating their 30th year.

Sue McGraw said: “They didn’t have the facilities or the support we have but the ethos and the people were so kind.”