Belfast Telegraph

Widow in her 70s taking on 100-mile Cancer Research charity trek in memory of late husband

Patricia Watterson with her late husband Pat
Patricia Watterson with her late husband Pat
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

A grandmother whose husband enjoyed a longer life after taking part in a drug trial is walking more than 100 miles between two of his beloved sporting venues to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Patricia Watterson, who is in her 70s, will cover the distance between two of the most important sites to her husband Pat during his lifetime - Kilclief GAC grounds, near Strangford, and Croke Park in Dublin.

Retired school principal Pat, who taught at Kilclief's St Malachy's Primary School, died of bowel cancer in June last year, aged 79.

In 2012 the father-of-seven and his family in Downpatrick received the devastating news he had leukaemia.

But a drug trial prolonged his life by around six years, giving him precious time to savour with his family, including 13 grandchildren.

"I just want to do something to raise money for Cancer Research so that someone else like Pat will be able to enjoy that time with their families and grandchildren," Mrs Watterson said.

"I really don't think he would have had that time without that drug trial."

Mrs Watterson, also a retired teacher, is a veteran of charity walks and has walked from Mizen Head to Malin Head, Dublin to Galway, and Dublin to Derry.

She has also walked the famous Camino de Santiago in Europe each year since 2001, apart from the year of her journey to Mizen Head.

However, she has announced that her next big walk, which has a fundraising target of £10,000, will be her last.

Mrs Watterson had planned to start on May 28, which would have been her late husband's 80th birthday, but she changed the start date to May 26 because so many family members and friends want to walk part of the way with her.

Kilclief GAC has said members will wear club colours on the walk in tribute to Pat.

A walkway around the club's grounds is also to be dedicated to his memory.

"That is a measure of what they thought of him," Patricia said.

Trips to Croke Park to watch the county team were momentous occasions for Pat. "Those (Kilclief GAC grounds and Croke Park) were the two significant places in his life," Patricia said.

She will be accompanied on the walk by people including family friend Francie Morgan.

Patricia said her husband would be touched by her efforts. "I think he'd be very proud and very pleased. I hope so, anyway. And I hope he's looking down on me," she added.

Mrs Watterson hopes to finish by June 5, ahead of the first anniversary of Pat's death on June 16.

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patricia-watterson1

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