The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

500-mile pilgrimage walk in memory of parents

Norfolk property firm owner Joanna McIntyre from Loddon will be embarking on the 500-mile Christian pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago, from France to Spain, from May 1 in memory of her parents and to raise money for charity. Here Joanna explains why she is doing it.

Not long ago my mother died of cancer, having already lost my father about 20 years ago to heart disease.  It was a terrible blow and I saw first hand what this awful disease can do to a loved one.  
Whilst clearing my parents house I came across a number of books on Santiago de Compostela and 'the Pilgrimage Walk' called the Camino de Frances together with a collection of newspaper cuttings and a small silver box with a scallop shell on, which she had given me as a present after a visit to the Cathedral at Santiago about 15 years ago.  
I am convinced that it was something which my mother would have loved to have done herself, so I am walking in her memory and very much hope that everyone will be generous in supporting me to achieve my challenge and to raise funds for the Big C.
For over 1000 years, the Camino de Santiago has been an important Christian pilgrimage since way back in medieval times.  
It is said that the remains of the apostle Saint James (one of the Twelve Apostles) are buried in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and legend has it that St James's remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.
On the routes you find pilgrims carrying their walking sticks and hanging proudly on their backpacks, a scallop shell.  This shell is a symbol that represents the Camino de Santiago and is seen as a metaphor for the pilgrimage, where the grooves in the shell coming together at a single point represents the various routes pilgrims travel arriving at a single destination of the tomb of St. James in the Cathedral.  
Thousands of people set out on the Camino each year for many different reasons, not necessarily for religious reasons or spiritual reasons.  There are many who make the walk in order to literally and figuratively find "their way" maybe to find themselves or perhaps to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the value and simplicity of life.  The answer lies within each of us as we make our own personal journey.  
I am very excited about the journey that I am going to make and where it will lead me. The spiritual side of the walk is going to be important to me as it would have been to my mother.  My father was a doctor and not particularly religious as scientist often aren't!  I am not a regular church goer, however, the spiritual side of life is very important to me and this will be spurring and helping me on my journey.
As part of the challenge, I will be raising money for the Musker McIntyre Community Fund which is managed by Norfolk Community Foundation and which awards grants of up to £1,000 for small charities, voluntary and community groups working in and around Beccles, Bungay, Loddon and Diss. 

The aim of the fund is to promote health and wellbeing, tackle disadvantage, support local solutions to meet local needs, promote community cohesion and develop sustainable and supportive communities.  The Fund welcomes applications from groups that support a wide range of areas of social need with a particular focus on local community projects which support disadvantaged and vulnerable groups including older people, children and young people.
The I also hope to raise a considerable amount for the Big C independent cancer charity. This fantastic Norfolk charity provides support, funding, world-class research, care and services for people affected by cancer in our local communities. Big C funds ground-breaking research into fighting cancer at UEA (University of East Anglia) as well as paying for support and vital life-saving equipment.  Big C's Cancer Support and Information Centres are based at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and in Great Yarmouth and are currently raising money for more centres around Norfolk and the Waveney Valley. 
I will be keeping in touch via a Facebook page
To sponsor Joanna, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JoannaMcIntyre

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