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Dermot puts on walking boots again in memory of late wife

By Victoria O'Hara

An inspirational father has taken on a massive 1,000km challenge in memory of his wife who lost her battle with cancer.

Last year, to help deal with his heartbreaking loss, Dermot Breen walked the entire length of the Ulster Way, a distance of more than 1,000km.

That feat plus other fundraising activities helped to drum up £20,000 for cancer research.

Now Dermot is in the middle of a similar challenge - walking 1,000km across the north coast of Spain, along the Camino de Santiago.

Once again, he has dedicated the walk to the memory of his late wife, Jacqui, a teacher at Greenisland Primary School, who passed away from ovarian cancer in January last year at the age of 54.

"The idea for my Ulster Way walk was actually inspired by the book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, which Jacqui and I both loved," Dermot explained.

"In the book, the main character sets off unexpectedly one morning to walk a distance of 1,000km to visit an old work colleague who is terminally ill with cancer.

"Before Jacqui passed away, I told her that I would walk even further than Harold Fry if I thought it could save her. I was never a great walker, and so she really appreciated the sentiment behind my words.

"Unfortunately, there was no saving Jacqui, and although heartbroken, I decided to honour her memory and to do something to help save others by walking further than Harold Fry.

"I reckon that I have a good few miles left in my walking boots yet, and so this year I decided to add another 1,000km by walking the famous Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.

"It presents a very personal and mental challenge for me as I have not been away from home for more than a few days since Jacqui passed away. However, I am as committed as ever to helping Cancer Research UK fight cancer.

"I also hope that with support for my latest challenge, further vital funds will be raised to help the charity find better treatments faster."

Cancer Research UK spends more than £2m a year on research in Northern Ireland.

Thanks to this, survival rates have doubled in the past 40 years, with two in four people living through cancer for 10 years or more.

The charity aims to improve upon this progress so that the chance of survival becomes three in four within the next 20 years.

To follow and support Dermot's challenge visit his Facebook page:, or you can sponsor his fundraising efforts at

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