A RETIRED GP who grew up in Omagh has raised around £40,000 for charity by trekking up and down his own driveway for five days in a virtual recreation of a famous pilgrimage.
Dr Martin McMullan, who now lives in the Lisburn area, walked around 120km by recreating one of the stages of the Camino de Santiago route in northern Spain.
The father-of-five, diagnosed with an incurable blood cancer in 2012, took on the lengthy trek to raise much-needed funds for developing world charity, Trocaire.
Finishing up on Monday afternoon, which also happened to be his 58th birthday, Dr McMullan has already raised more than £32,390 from his fundraising page on the JustGiving website.
According to a counter on the page, this is an incredible 6,748 per-cent more than his original target of £500.
But, once donations through the Gift Aid scheme and various cash donations are added in, the retired GP has estimated that the total amount raised will exceed £40,000.
He said, “I did the challenge, but the real heroes are the people who put their hands in their pocket and donated. They’re the people who are going to save lives and help change lives in the developing world.”
Dr McMullan said the tremendous support he received from his home county deserved a special mention.
“There’s a considerable number of donations that I can see came from Tyrone. I also got sent inspiring support videos, both before I started and while I was on my journey, from the likes of Mickey Harte and a lot of the Tyrone players,” he said.
A veteran of three stages of the real Camino, the Omagh native said he found doing the virtual one far harder than he expected, particularly mentally.
“I know what it’s like to walk the distances, but the psychology is completely different when you’re not actually going anywhere.
“What pushes you on in the Camino, when you’re still two or three kilometres out at the end of the day, is seeing the next town. That gives you a boost.
“When you’re doing it up and down the driveway, and all you’re looking at is the step count on your tracker app, it’s hard going. It drags on and on.”
But Dr McMullan admitted that all the aches and pains he was feeling were gone soon after reaching the finish line on Monday afternoon.
“The clouds disappeared and the sun came out. It was a welcome sight. They put up a bit of Spanish bunting and I walked through it,” he said.
• If you would like to donate to Martin’s virtual pilgrimage, please go to this website: https://justgiving.com/fundraising/martin-mcmullan2