The walk so far according to Bethan
It has been an amazing experience so far walking and travelling from Rhyl to Glasbury. The walk has been tough and blisters are many (for me at least) but the hospitality and the inspiring stories from the hospital and chapel visits has really kept me going, along with the support team! I have learned the importance of listening to advice and changing routes in order to remain safe in the sun and also how much the heat and sun effects you when walking- whether after being too hot to move or making your feet swell, or just plain making you thirsty.
All of the hospitality has been different along with the hospitality we’ve received but all a wonderful experience I am unlikely to forget. Whilst visiting the hospitals it has become clear how much the NHS touches the lives of all of us and how the staff of Hospitals and Medical centres do extraordinary work and quite often don’t receive positive feedback. And in the week that Matt Hancock has been appointed as new Secretary of health under Theresa May’s government, and with his track record of wanting to privatise the NHS, the messages of thanks and support for a service many take for granted is more important than ever.
As a drama teacher, I love stories and along the way we have heard so many weird and wonderful stories of how the NHS has saved their lives or how they have made end of lives comfortable, but one story that had really impacted me on our journey was one in the Bone Cancer ward at Gobowen. The ward staff shared stories of how many patients come and go after life changing amputation surgery but that they all come back and support the ward time and time again organising bbqs and fundraisers for the ward. One girl Kate, a teenage bone cancer sufferer and survivor has raised enough money to fund a lounge on the ward full of PlayStations and comfy chairs for patients to chill with friends or family. This to me was testament to the kind treatment and wellbeing the staff of the NHS provide.
Another story that has really touched me and helped me develop my faith was the night we stayed with Alan. He has recently lost his wife but his explanation of how the NHS helped his wife in her final weeks and how his faith has helped him since her passing had such a positive message that you could do nothing but rejoice and celebrate.
It has been a learning curve to be at the receiving end of hospitality too. We as a church are so ready to be the hosts and think we know what people want and try and put on a show, where as what people really want and need is a bucket to soak tired feet, a meal to replenish the soul and a place to rest a weary spirit and body and 5 minutes to settle in before being pounced on. And although all our hosts have been very different- this is exactly what we have received in each place, and I am so thankful for that.
And so with 3 days to go, about 50 odd miles left to do, here’s hoping blisters will shrink, legs will stretch and clouds cover the sun as we make our way home and to the senedd!