Retired Sheffield firefighter walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise £10,000 for charity

Gary Williamson is walking from Land's End to John O'Groats
Gary Williamson is walking from Land's End to John O'Groats

A retired firefighter is preparing to take on an amazing charity challenge – walking the 874 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Gary Williamson hopes to raise £10,000 to share equally between Cancer Research and The Fire Fighters’ Charity from the effort.

He is due to set off on March 20 and expects to spend around three months travelling the length of Britain.

Gary, aged 58, of Beauchief, intends to camp and stay at the homes of firefighting colleagues.

He is supporting the two charities after having personal experience of relatives getting cancer, as well as personally using the services of The Fire Fighters’ Charity.

The organisation operates rehabilitation centres for injured and ill firefighters and their families.

Gary was a firefighter for more than 30 years, initially working in Hertfordshire and North Yorkshire before spending the last 12 years of his career in South Yorkshire, retiring in 2009.

He has previously cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats and said he is looking forward to the walking challenge.

“Like most people, I have lost fellow family members and friends to cancer,” he said.

“With the Fire Fighters’ Charity, I’m a retired firefighter and I have used their facilities, which are only available because of people’s donations. They are both very worthwhile charities.

“I have cycled it before but I have always thought I would like to walk it. I’m going to do it on my own but a lot of my friends know I’m doing it and they will walk parts of it.

“In the past, I have done a lot of mountain walking in Scotland and I’m taking a tent and camping equipment. I’m in contact with firemen and I’m hoping to stop with them as well.

“The fire service charity runs three homes for injured and ill firemen and they are funded by donations.

“I had a lung collapse many years ago and had to have an operation to fix one of my lungs. I went to their convalescent home in Devon and spent a couple of weeks there. I also once had a knee injury and I spent a week at their centre near the Lake District. They are fabulous.”

To help with his fundraising efforts, Gary is putting on a ‘mystery box’ evening at The Beauchief Hotel on Friday, March 13.

After taking donations from local businesses, people will pay £10 a ticket to get one of the boxes and find out what their mystery prize is.

He hopes to raise £1,000 from the evening.

n To sponsor Gary, or for information about his challenge, visit For more information about the mystery box evening, call the Beauchief Hotel on 0114 236 2104.