Two bakery workers rose to the challenge to give a hospice a major boost after a mammoth 120-mile trek around the coast of Anglesey.
Ashley Dawson and Rob Champion raised more than £2,000 for the Nightingale House Hospice in Wrexham after their bosses at the Village Bakery matched the donations they’d received pound for pound.
The hospice is the Village Bakery’s chosen charity this year and a number of other fundraising events have already been held this year, including a charity football match.
Shift manager Ashley, 27, and packaging expert Rob Challenger, 29, completed the hike around Anglesey’s Coastal Path in four days, camping out overnight between the legs of the trek.
It was made all the more difficult because both of them were carrying rucksacks weighing 35kg each.
They were joined by colleagues from the Village Bakery, friends and family at different times during the epic challenge.
Among them was Ashley’s brother, Ceri Dawson known as Cez, who has made a miraculous recovery after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer.
Things looked bleak for Cez two years ago when he was given the bombshell news that he had pleomorphic soft tissue sarcoma – a rare type of cancer – just days before the birth of his son.
But Cez, who lives in Coedpoeth, near Wrexham, with his wife, Catrin, and their little boy, Cai, who’s nearly two, is now aiming to get his career as a teacher back on track.
Ashley said: “Although it was very, very hard going and I had blisters on my blisters, it was awesome from start to finish.
“The weather wasn’t great because it pretty much rained every single day so we were walking in wet clothes but we had a really good laugh.
“Along the way we saw some amazing things like dolphins and seals while we were walking along the top of some 100ft cliffs.
“Rob and I were pushing one another, taking it in turns in the lead so the other could have a bit of rest. It was proper team work.
“Cez came along on the Sunday with a few of our other friends and he carried my rucksack for the 23 miles from Church Bay to Rhosneigr. What an absolute hero.
“The other lads carried Rob’s rucksack for him and they all took it in turns.
“That gave us a bit of break because carrying the rucksacks was killing us.
“The longest day was 19 hours walking. We started just before the sun came up and then finished at 12:30am when we got yo the campsite.
“The most dangerous part was when it was dark along a goat trail on the side of a 100ft cliff. It was a real adventure that night.
“It was supposed to be 32 miles but we got lost in the dark in a few farmers’ fields so we were walking around in circles for two hours, so we think it was probably about 36 miles.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support we’ve had and the Village Bakery have topped up the final amount. They have essentially doubled what we had already raised which is amazingly generous of them.”
It was a sentiment echoed by fellow trekker Rob who was proud to have completed the marathon walk.
He said: “It was a very difficult test of endurance, physically and mentally, but it was definitely worth it. It is without doubt the toughest thing I have ever done.
“I definitely have a great sense of achievement for having completed the walk and it felt really good to finish it.
“When I saw the Menai Bridge it was like seeing the end of the rainbow. It was really good though when we finished.”
But the dynamic duo are not resting on their laurels – they’re now dreaming up an even tougher challenge for next year.
Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones said: “I take my hat off to Ash and Rob because they had to show real grit and determination to complete this epic walk in four days. But all their pain and blisters were in a very good cause.
I think everyone in the Wrexham area and beyond knows someone who has benefited from the amazing work that goes on at Nightingale House and as they are our chosen charity this year, we were delighted to be able to support them again.”