Coastal path challenge – Alison Thomas
In 2018 Alison was invited for routine breast screening. Her mammogram picked up a problem and in September 2018 after two operations at Withybush General Hospital she received major surgery at Morriston Hospital and was clear of Cancer. Following her surgery the road back to recovery was difficult, but Alison was determined to get fit again so she started walking.
At first Alison only had the energy to walk to the end of the drive, but she progressed to walking up the lane, and then around the village. The next step was a little further to the beach near her home and then finally on to the coastal path. Alison did her walks with her friend of very many years, Cath. At the beginning of 2018, Cath lost Steve, her husband of 40 years, very suddenly. The death of Steve also meant that Alison and her husband Martin, had lost a close friend. So together, going at a pace and distance that suited Alison, they walked and talked and remembered. Slowly their walks got longer as they enjoyed the fresh air, beautiful scenery and wildlife.
At around this time Shalom advertised their Coast Path Challenge. Alison had received support from Shalom as part of her convalescence, and decided she wanted to give back, so a plan was hatched to start the challenge. Family and friends sponsored them, but they were also astounded by the generosity of so many other people. On the coast path they were often stopped and asked about their Shalom T-shirt’s. When fellow walkers heard the story, many would make a donation there and then, and there are many other stories of people’s kindness along the way.
Alison and Cath were soon regularly doing distances of 6 or 7 miles. On each walk they only ever took one car, so always returned the way they came, which means that by the time they finish, they will have walked the coast path twice.
The pair got as far as Newport when the pandemic hit and put a stop to their walks for a while but are back out again walking and raising funds for Shalom House.
The coast path challenge has been a massive achievement for Alison, but she has loved it, and with her friend Cath behind her every step of the way, they will continue to enjoy the beauty of walking in Pembrokeshire.