A Wearside bus driver is to embark on his latest charity challenge as he bids to raise much-needed cash for his beloved church.
Stagecoach North East employee Alan Beck, 63, from Washington, will take on a coast to coast walk over seven days and 100 miles.
Alan, who was born only yards away from Holy Trinity Church in South Hetton, will be setting off on Sunday from Bowness-on-Solway to help raise funds for the venue’s damaged roof.
Alan, who has worked at the depot in Sunderland for the past 37 years, has planned his own route and accommodation for the week-long trek, finishing in Seaburn on Sunday, August 26, where his family will meet him.
Not content with walking over 100 miles from West to East, Alan plans to recover for one day and then walk from Seaburn to his much loved church in South Hetton, joined by his family and friends as he walks through the villages for his final collection.
The roof at Holy Trinity Church is in desperate need of repair due to extremely bad weather, so £50,000 must be found for restoration work and long term repairs.
Over £14,000 has been raised so far, with Alan contributing a whopping £9,000 when he completed a tandem parachute jump in October 2015.
Speaking about his latest fund-raiser, Alan said: “I first had the idea early in 2016 - and wanted to something different to help raise more funds for the roof restoration - but realised it was too soon after the parachute jump so I put it on hold until this year.
“It has taken some preparation, especially around my job and duties as a church warden, with three or four trips to Bowness-on-Solway for accommodation and route planning.
“Originally I was planning to do a joint expedition with the vicar for the church but unfortunately he has had to pull out due to ill health, so I will be mostly travelling on my own.
“However, I am looking forward to meeting people along the way and I have had some great support from the B&Bs that I will be staying at en route.”
Alan has kindly been offered a private donation of £500 to cover his accommodation but will be providing his own food and travel expenses.
During the walk, Alan plans to listen to his favourite bands, including Beatles and Queen, and is looking forward to growing a beard while away, as back at home his wife prefers him clean shaven.
He added: “For me, the most difficult stage will be the fourth day where I walk from Alston to Cowshill, as it is very hilly, and I even have the lady owner of the B&B looking out for me.
“I see this as a personal journey for myself as well as raising money and I don’t think it has ever been done before so I am now just hoping for nice weather along the way.”
Laura Smith, operations manager for Stagecoach North East’s Sunderland depot, said: “We are tremendously proud of Alan and wish him the very best on his walking challenge.”