East Dean resident embarks on pilgrimage for international medical charity

Ian Kerr with his South Downs walking companions.
Ian Kerr with his South Downs walking companions.

Despite being diagnosed with arthritis, Ian Kerr has walked the famous Camino de Santiago in Spain to raise money for Virtual Doctors.

The East Dean resident is the chairman of the board of trustees for the charity and has completed the journey in stages, raising £2,555 to date.

Completing The Camino de Santiago (or Way of St James) was a dream Ian would not let his arthritis get in the way of.

The large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretches across Europe and comes together in the tomb of St James in north-west Spain.

Ian said: “I enjoy walking but, sadly, could see my walking days coming to an end as I have the beginnings of advanced arthritis, so it was a case of now or never perhaps!

“I have completed the two legs of my challenge and have been accompanied by friends on the first stage and by my partner Jenny for the second.

He said that the challenge was ‘great fun’ but emphasises the ‘serious underlying message’ of the journey.

“I want to raise money to help expand the clinics in which Virtual Doctors serve in Zambia and Malawi and I am especially excited about the possibility of working in a new country, Kenya, if additional resources are forthcoming.” Ian said.

The Virtual Doctors is an internationally focussed charity delivering cutting-edge medicine services to rural health centres in Zambia and Malawi.

Huw Jones, executive director, said: “I understand that Ian spent a considerable amount of time training to get ready for this long challenge. He told me he was walking for 2 hours a day on the nearby South Downs Way with his loyal four legged companions– that is determination indeed!

“We have been blown away by the level of support he has received and all the staff and volunteers here at the charity can’t thank him and his sponsors enough. The donations will make a huge difference to us.”

The charity relies entirely on charitable donations to help reduce unnecessary referrals for rural patients to distant hospitals in some of the world’s poorest countries.

A collaboration between these clinics and volunteer UK doctors hopes to share expertise and prevent difficult journeys, which some may have to make on foot.

Ian’s Justgiving page can be found here

To find out more about the work of Virtual Doctors, including information on how to donate or volunteer, please contact info@virtualdoctors.org, call 01273 454755, or visit the charity’s website here