19 Jun 2014

Staff go the extra mile for charity with Isle of Man challenge

DATE: 19-06-14

Airport staff will take on the challenge of an 85-mile walk on the Isle of Man in under 24 hours to raise money for Maggie’s Newcastle.

The 2014 Manx Telecom Parish Walk is a historic walking race which sees enthusiasts and professionals from across the UK visit the Isle of Man to endure a gruelling 85-mile course in just 24 hours.

The famous route takes walkers around each of the island’s parishes from 8am on Saturday 21 June 2014.

Eric Wrightson, 58, from Consett, is General Manager of Park & Fly at the airport and a keen long distance walker. He will be taking part in the event with help from colleague and support driver, John Mason.

The Isle of Man is divided into six ‘sheadings’ which are further divided into seventeen parishes, each with its own parish church. The original Parish Walk involved touching the door at each parish church but this practice has been phased out over time. The event is organised under the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules of race walking and attracts thousands of entrants each year.

Eric said: “I’m really looking forward to taking part in the walk. I’ve been training for the last few months with a number of walks across the North East. I’ve been long distance walking for around 10 years or so and I really enjoy it. It keeps me fit and it’s a great opportunity to get out and about and visit some wonderful places.

“I usually try to enter between 5 to 10 official challenge walks each year on varying distances from 20 miles to 50 miles, over different terrains such as moorland or hills. This time around I’m taking on something totally new – a course that will take me 85 miles on a historic route of the Isle of Man. Thousands of people enter but only a few hundred usually finish the full course, let alone finish it in less than 24 hours – I’m hoping to be one of them!

“My colleague John will be my support driver on the route as there are a number of different rules and restrictions in place. The walk attracts long distances walkers, both professional and amateur who, like me, enjoy the challenge!”

Citywing, which operates a service to the Isle of Man from Newcastle International Airport four times a week, supported the team by providing their flights to and from the event. Car Hire Company Avis is also providing a support car.

Eric added: “A huge thank you goes to Newcastle International Airport, Citywing and Avis for supporting this charity activity.”

David Buck, Managing Director of Citywing, said: “We’d like to wish Eric and John all the best for the Parish Walk 2014. The walk attracts thousands of entrants each year and guides visitors through some of the spectacular scenery on offer here on the Isle of Man. We’re famous for our stunning scenery and challenging walks and I’m sure they will both enjoy their visit tremendously.”

The pair will raise money for the airport’s adopted charity Maggie’s Newcastle by taking part in the challenge. Maggie’s, which has a cancer centre at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, offers free support and activities for those dealing with cancer and their loved ones.

Kelly Knighting-Wykes, Centre Fundraising Manager North East for Maggie’s, said: “Without support from companies like Newcastle International Airport and its staff, we couldn’t provide our much needed services to people living with cancer in the North East. Eric’s fundraising is fantastic and we really appreciate him taking on this huge challenge for Maggie’s Newcastle. This support will make a huge difference to what we can continue to provide our visitors when they need us most.”

To donate visit http://www.justgiving.com/parishwalk2014 or text the code NIAP85 and the amount you wish to donate, for example £5, to 70070. All donations gratefully received.

For more information on Newcastle International Airport visit www.newcastleairport.com