Irishman Colm Farrell, known as ‘Hazard’, isn’t your typical John o’ Groats to Lands End charity walker.
The 47-year-old from Tuam in County Galway is walking for 340 nights down the length of the UK, without the slightest clue where he’ll be staying.
“I’ve visited a pub in every village,” he said. “I just sit down and check the internet. I inform people on my Twitter and Facebook page where I’m going to be, and eventually I’ll get a call inviting me to stay somewhere. I’ve walked 270 days so far, and only had to sleep out once, at a place called Melvich, near Thurso. They were lovely people, but I was just out in the middle of nowhere. Whatever happens, happens.”
Colm is raising funds and awareness for the charity ‘Console’ (www.console.ie), which counsels bereaved families of suicide victims and people with suicidal thoughts. “Government figures estimated there were over 6,144 suicides in the UK last year,” he said, “but there are probably around 12,000 suicides in the UK every year: the coroner writes a lot of them down as ‘misadventure’.
“In the town where I live, a couple of people I knew well were suicides. One of the lads, I was chatting to him a few hours before he took his own life. I didn’t see it coming. If I’d had a different conversation, there would have been a different outcome. You should ask people if they’re suicidal, because there’s a 90 per cent chance they’ll tell the truth. It’s a weight off their shoulders. Ninety-nine per cent of people would never ask if someone is suicidal, because they fear what the answer would be. It’s better to ask and get an answer, than find out at their funeral.”
‘Hazard’ has already walked through the 32 counties of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and started his 5,000-mile journey through the UK’s 86 counties in Wick on July 25. “The day I started training was the day I started walking,” he said.
On Monday night Colm stayed near Kelso with Steve James, owner of the Found It At Last Bookshop, then Tuesday night at St Boswell’s Buccleuch Arms. Selkirk’s Heatherlie House Hotel bided Colm on Wednesday, setting him off with a packed lunch for Thursday’s donder to Innerleithen. “There’s no way out of the rain, I’m afraid,” he said, “and no lifts either.”
Follow Colm on Twitter at Colm Farrell @HAZ66 or his Facebook page, Colm Farrell Tuam, or his fundraising page www.mycharity.ie/event/colm_farrells_walk_the_line