Keep up with Armagh i

‘I will walk 500 miles and I will make one Men’s Shed more’: Banbridge man in Camino fundraiser

While the trip is something Victor undoubtedly looks forward to, it's all in aid of something he will enjoy just as much back home

A Banbridge native is preparing to take on the walk of a lifetime to raise funds for an initiative that he believes will have a massive impact on his local community.

Victor Carswell (48), together with his cousin Trevor Carswell, will be tackling the massive 500-mile Camino de Santiago trail from St Jean Pied de Por France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

The pair are due to embark on their fundraising journey on June 5 – and at this moment in time have planned for little else than their outbound flights!

Speaking to Armagh I Victor said: “I’ve wanted to do it for about ten to 12 years but work has always got in the way.

“It was last October that two sisters came home from Australia and we had a family gathering in Castlewellan Park and people kept asking me about doing the walk and if I would do it for charity. I hadn’t planned to do it for charity but then I was just thinking about it last week and I had been reading up about the Men’s Shed and I would like to join it myself.

“I saw their appeal for money to help get it started so I thought why not do it for something like that to benefit the town? I got in touch with Paul to see if they would mind me doing it for the shed and they were over the moon!”

The confident Victor – who works in steel erection and industrial cladding – has no doubts of his physical ability to take on the mammoth trek, regularly clocking up above average step counts on a daily basis.

“I’m on my feet from I start work in the morning until I finish work in the evening and to me that’s as much training as I need,” he added.

“I would be doing double figures in steps every day and that’s not just walking, that’s carrying materials. It’s like going to the gym for eight hours a day.”

Starting at the base of the Pyrenees mountains, Victor is looking forward to the Camino experience just as much as the thought of coming home that one step closer to having a Men’s Shed on his doorstep.

Said Victor: “I want to enjoy it. I’m not there for a race. It’s going to take a full month to do it. If it takes 35 days, that’s what it takes.

“We [he and Trevor] have come to the agreement that if we come to a nice town or village and we like it we will spend the day there and start walking again the next day.

“We haven’t booked return flights because we would be tied then, and we didn’t want that. If it takes 40 days, it takes 40 days I’m not bothered.

“I’m going to do the whole thing unless my body cannot do it. I’m confident that I’m more than fit enough to do it but it’s just in case something happens or for unforeseen circumstances.”

Alongside the obvious mileage, Victor anticipates taking in an abundance of spectacular sights across towns and villages steeped in ancient history; a detachment from everyday life and its stresses; unplanned overnight stays in Spanish alburgues [hostels] and the opportunity to meet many other pilgrims, each on their own individual journey.

Of the spontaneity of the trip, Victor said: “I’m a wee bit nervous. Not for the walk but just until I get sorted with finding accommodation. You can prebook it all but to me that’s taking the fun out it.

“Two or three days and it should be the same routine every night. We will stay in the albergues most nights and if we are looking for a little bit of luxury we will book into a hotel for the night.”

While the trip is something Victor undoubtedly looks forward to, it is all in aid of something he will enjoy just as much back home.

Added Victor: “I don’t mind sharing that outside of work I don’t have a big group of friends. I think it is a great idea and even though I am married and have kids, I think it’s a great way for single men in the town to feel less isolated and create a sense of community.

“Banbridge has totally changed since I was young. I would walk up through the town now and I wouldn’t know a face. That’s life! It’s not massive town but it is a big town, and it has grown over the years.

“Getting out for an hour during the day to go in and have a cup of coffee and a chat or if they are doing a bit of DIY at home and aren’t great at it, there will be someone at the Men’s Shed to show them a few skills.”

Together with organisers for the Men’s Shed Banbridge, Victor has set up a GoFundMe page with a target of £2000 towards the project’s start-up costs.

You can make a donation to Victor’s Camino 500 mile walk for Banbridge Men’s Community Shed here.

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Most read today

More in Banbridge