SIX form students Matthew Sloan and Josh Moore have been pals since childhood but that friendship may well be put to the test as they've set off on a month-long odyssey together.
The south Belfast 17 year olds packed their bags and set off on Monday to walk the length of Ireland from southernmost point Mizen Head in Co. Cork to Malin Head in Co. Donegal.
Matthew, a lower sixth student at Rathmore Grammar, said they were looking for a challenge and thought this would be right up their street. "At first we were just doing it for fun and then my mum, who is a Nurse Specialist in the field of cancer, suggested we raise money for a charity while we were at it."
He said the his mum daily saw how funds from the Friends of the Cancer Centre support local cancer patients and their families. The charity provides the latest medical equipment and funds specialist medical posts and research. It also works to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and their families through diverse projects which range from complementary therapies to refurbishing the on-site 'patient hotel' for those who regularly have to travel long distances for their treatment.
"Most people know someone who has been affected by cancer," said Matthew. "My experience was of my cousin's son who unfortunately passed away from brain cancer before he was two years old."
Josh, a student at Aquinas Grammar, adds: "The route we've decided to take by road will take roughly a month and a lot of hard work to complete as we'll be walking an average of 18 miles a day.
"We've been doing what we can to prepare on top of our exams. We have walked the Mournes and Cave Hill before and recently fitted in a walk to Monkstown and back from Belfast city centre for a little warm up. We've also been doing everything we can to toughen our feet. The latest idea from my mum, who likes to do online research, is to soaking our feet in tea – apparently the tannin's good for hardening skin!"
The boys have already run some fundraising activities ahead of the and are holding a in Westport, where Josh's uncle lives – and taking a breather – on July 11.
To support Matthew and Josh's fundraising, you can donate at www.justgiving.com/jamwalks or text JAMW95 £1 - £5 or £10 to 70070.