54-year-old Balornock woman walks 2,000 miles from Glasgow to Rome in six month journey for charity

The 54-year-old embarked on the epic 2,000 mile journey from Glasgow to Rome for Mary’s Meals and Dementia UK
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Geraldine McFaul, who is fundraising for Mary’s Meals and Dementia UK, will soon reach Rome, six months after setting off for the Italian capital.

A Glasgow woman who decided to walk from her home to Rome will soon reach the Italian capital after nearly six months on the road.

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Geraldine McFaul departed her home in Balornock, Glasgow, at the start of May and is due to arrive at her bucket list destination on Saturday, November 4, having travelled through Scotland, England, France, Switzerland and Italy on foot. The 54-year-old has taken on the unique challenge simply because she’s ‘always wanted to go to Rome’ and eventually set off after friends told her to ‘get on with it’.

Geraldine has been raising funds for two great causes during her epic exploit, Mary’s Meals and Dementia UK.

Mary's Meals serves nutritious school meals to more than 2.4 million children in 18 of the world’s poorest countries. The promise of a daily meal attracts children into the classroom, where they can gain an education and hope for the future.

Dementia UK is the specialist dementia nursing charity that is there for the whole family. Its nurses, known as Admiral Nurses, provide free specialist advice, support and understanding to anyone affected by dementia, whenever it’s needed. With the support of an Admiral Nurse and Dementia UK – whether it’s on the charity’s Helpline, through its Clinics service or in the community – the families Dementia UK support know they are not alone.

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Speaking from the village of Aulla in Tuscany, Geraldine admits she is experiencing ‘mixed emotions’ with Rome in sight, as she prepares to return to ‘normal life’ in Glasgow.

She says: “I do feel a bit odd! I feel like it’s the final straight, but the same time I don’t want it to be over! I’m excited about getting to the finish line, so it’s a bit contradictory, really!

“I am looking forward to getting back home. I’ve got a girls’ weekend just after I get back, which will be nice. It will be odd, but it will be good to get back into real life.

“I have been complaining about it being too hot here, but I am going back to Scottish winter!”

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Geraldine, who has previously admitted she has been ‘making it up as she goes along’, walks on average 12 miles a day with her trailer and has relied on the generosity of strangers, or as she calls them; ‘kindnappers’.

When asked about her highlights of the trip, the freelance risk management consultant said: “The people. In Italy, you meet people in the accommodation every day. There’s a group of about 10 of us walking now and you invariably bump into two or three of them every night. That’s been nice and sociable!

“Getting over The Alps has been a highlight. That was a massive, massive thing. I felt a bit weird for three days afterwards because I was on the other side, and I never thought I’d get there!”.

Greeting Geraldine in Rome will be volunteers for Mary’s Meals Italy and family and friends from home, including her 94-year-old Godfather, Desmond McGowan, who has been following Geraldine’s trip from start to finish, video-calling her to keep her company on the road.

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The duo will be in the Pope’s General Audience at The Vatican, to celebrate her arrival into the city.

In spite of her enjoyment of the journey, Geraldine admits she’s unlikely to do another similar trip in future, as she ‘doesn’t think she’d be able to top’ her walk to Rome. However, she hopes her walk with a difference can inspire others to follow her footsteps and raise money for charities like Mary’s Meals and Dementia UK.

Geraldine McFaul walked over 2,000 miles from Glasgow to Rome in six monthsGeraldine McFaul walked over 2,000 miles from Glasgow to Rome in six months
Geraldine McFaul walked over 2,000 miles from Glasgow to Rome in six months

She said: “At the start of this journey, I knew I could get up and go for a walk, but I had no idea I could live nomadically for this amount of time. I’m much more confident around people now.

“I’d say that if I can do it, anyone can do it! And I’d encourage anyone who is able to consider doing something similar, especially if it helps support two incredible charities, like Mary’s Meals and Dementia UK.”

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Commenting on Geraldine’s journey, Gemma Love, supporter engagement officer at Mary’s Meals, says: “We have been so inspired by Geraldine and it has been a great joy to follow her walk from start to finish. We are incredibly grateful for her support, which will help us feed more hungry children.

“We’re sure Geraldine’s adventure will encourage others to get active and fundraise and make a life-changing difference to little ones living in some of the world’s poorest countries.”

To donate to Geraldine’s fundraisers, visit here for Mary’s Meals and here for Dementia UK. You can also follow Geraldine’s progress on her Instagram page here.

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