A MEMBER of the Rotary Club of Ilkley Wharfedale has completed a 50 mile sponsored walk to raise money for the 50:50 Campaign of the Airedale Hospital and Community Charity

Derek Richard was inspired to undertake the challenge following a serious brush with the Covic-19 virus. Admitted to Airedale Hospital as a Covid-19 pneumonia patient early in the pandemic he wondered, when he went in, if he would survive.

Thanks to all the efforts of the staff at the hospital, he did indeed survive and to those who showed endless patience and kindness during his stay - sometimes working well beyond their allotted hours - he felt the least he could do as a show of appreciation was to raise some money which will go towards the creation and renovation of staff rest and recuperation areas to support well-being.

The walk started on Friday, June 26 and was completed on Saturday, July 4.

The weather forecast for the walk, mainly along the Dales Way, was for a sunny few days. But while the first day, when Derek walked with his youngest son, Sebastian, from Ilkley to Barden Bridge was in comparative comfort, the remaining days were walked in pouring rain or showers with sharp winds particularly in the part of the journey up to Grassington.

When he got to the part between Ribblehead and Dent he was buffeted by the winds and a biblical downpour. He admits there were a few deviations where he had difficulty reading the map due to the lashing rain but he had vowed to walk 50 miles and was not going to be deterred. His faithful dog, Evie, kept his spirits up during some of the worst moments.

The walk took the form of six to 10 mile stages starting each day at the point he had previously reached. Because there were ‘deviations’ the 50 miles was completed before the final part of the last leg, the bit up to and around Dent being particularly bad due to flood waters.

On July 6, Derek made the promised return to Airedale General Hospital to pass on the news that the walk had raised, not the £500 target, but close to £2,000.

The money will go to the Staff Rest and Recuperation Areas within the hospital.

Derek knows that he is well on the way to full recovery from this dreadful virus thanks to his new friends at Airedale.