Larne grandfather fights his way back to fitness after gruelling cancer treatment with charity fundraising hike

A Larne grandfather and recent cancer survivor has completed a sponsored hike of the Antrim Hills to raise funds for Christian Aid Ireland.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 10:03 am
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 10:04 am

Retired engineer Bob Loade (64) completed the 10-mile hike of Sallagh Braes and Agnew’s Hill on April 10.

The challenge took place less than three months after completing his eighth round of gruelling chemotherapy - an experience that left him so tired and weak it was a struggle to walk.

When his chemo finally ended in late January this year, Bob began to slowly regain his fitness.

Bob Loade (right) and Allan McCullough hiked for 10 miles through the Antrim Hills to celebrate the end of Bob’s chemotherapy treatment, raising almost £3,000 for Christian Aid.

Within weeks, he was on the road to recovery, gradually building up his strength until he could walk 6,000 steps per day.

Bob completed the hike while carrying five litres of water in a rucksack to raise awareness of climate change and as an act of solidarity with the women and girls of eastern Kenya, who are walking further and further each day to fetch water because of widespread drought.

He has already raised almost £3,000 for Christian Aid, the international development charity which is responding to the crisis in Kenya by funding the building of earth dams (low-tech community ponds) to store rain water.

Herefordshire-born Bob moved to Northern Ireland after meeting his wife Sally, a retired Larne High School teacher.

The couple have two daughters, Louise and Ciara, and three grandchildren, Ben (15), Gracie (7) and Jacob (2).

He described the chemo as the toughest challenge of his life: “It was hard to keep going, but Sally and the girls were extremely supportive. I couldn’t have got through it without them.”

The local man was joined on the walk by several church members and good friend Allan McCullough who supported him during his cancer journey by phoning every week to encourage him and keep his spirits up.

The friends met through their church, Craigyhill Methodist in Larne, where Bob is the Christian Aid organiser.

“I thought, if I’m going to take on a physical challenge to celebrate the end of my chemo, I might as well do it for a good cause," Bob said. "I managed it ok, there were a few steep sections, but we took our time and everyone was very patient with me.”

Christian Aid Ireland Chief Executive Rosamond Bennett thanked Bob for choosing Christian Aid as the charity to benefit from his challenge. “I am inspired by the heroism of supporters like Bob who think of others even when facing difficulties in their own lives," she said. "It’s wonderful that he has been able to rebuild his fitness after this setback.”

If you would like to support Bob’s walking challenge, you can make an online donation at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/walkingforwaterlarnestyle.

Alternatively, you can post a cheque made payable to Christian Aid Ireland and marked on the reverse ‘Bob Loade’s walk’ to Christian Aid Ireland, 96 Beechill Road, Belfast BT8 7QN.