Aberdeen student to walk 500 miles for charity

A University of Aberdeen student will walk 500 miles across the Pyrenees to raise money for a charity which has helped her mother to battle bowel disease.

Nathalie Mares will take on the traditional Camino de Santiago route which begins on the French side of the mountains at St. Jean Pied de Port, France and then winds through northern Spain, ending in the cathedral city of Santiago de Compostela.

The third-year Theology student, who lives on Pittodrie Place in Aberdeen, is challenging herself to get fit in order to tackle the steep terrain and muster the stamina needed to cover the distance.

Nathalie, 22, said: “I’m not really a fit or sporty person so this really is going to be a test for me. Crossing the Pyrenees, it has some difficult climbs – including one right at the beginning – as well as long stretches of flat ground which are said to challenge your mental strength.

“I know it is going to be really tough but I wanted to set myself a goal and achieve it – and raise money for an important charity in the process.”

Nathalie, whose family live in Alvah, Banff, will be raising money for Bowel Disease UK, a charity which helps to improve the health of people with bowel diseases, including Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, IBS and Bowel Cancer.

She said: “I wanted to do something to support the great work of Bowel Disease UK because my mother has suffered from Colitis most of her life and I know how debilitating it can be. The charity has helped her and many others but it is an area that doesn’t always get the support that it should.

“There are few treatments and no cure for bowel disease so I want to raise as much money as I can to support research in this vital area.”

Nathalie will begin her trek on July 21 and will need to cover around 13 miles each day to complete the 500 mile journey by the end of August.

She has saved the money needed to cover the cost of her travel and hostel accommodation by working a part-time job at Key Store, on the High Street, Old Aberdeen, so that all sponsorship will go directly to charity.

“My biggest challenge at the moment is fitting in the training I need to do around my studies and part-time job – and getting the motivation to do it!”, Nathalie added.

“I’m trying to improve my general fitness with dance classes and I’ll start putting in more miles as it gets closer to the summer.

“The route is a popular pilgrimage for people of all denominations so I’m hoping that meeting lots of new people along the way and the sense of community spirit will get me through the tough times.”

For more details of Nathalie’s journey or to sponsor her, visit http://www.justgiving.com/Nathalie-Mare