Football hero Willie Henderson in desert trek

Willie Henderson, and inset, his daughter Michelle.
Willie Henderson, and inset, his daughter Michelle.
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FORMER Rangers and Scotland football legend Willie Henderson is to undertake a gruelling African desert trek to raise money for his late daughter’s charity.

The 70-year-old, who lives in Broxburn, West Lothian, flies out on Monday to Windhoek in Namibia to take part in the 100-mile Namib Desert Challenge, a five-day walk through some of the world’s harshest terrain.

He said: “It is 100 miles in five days, so it is like a marathon a day. There are 15 of us going and everyone has been training hard and raising funds, which is absolutely tremendous.”

Willie’s daughter, Michelle, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2010 and fought the disease for two years before dying on her 28th birthday.

The trek will raise funds for the Michelle Henderson Cervical Cancer Trust, set up to spread awareness of the condition and raise cash for hospital equipment.

Willie has previously been on fund-raising ventures to the Gobi desert and the Indonesian jungle, where he and 22 volunteers scaled mountains including Mount Krakatoa.

But he said: “This is the hardest challenge yet. I have trained hard for it because it has the highest sand dunes in the world.

“I’ve trained a lot on the roads and have been up the Pentland Hills five or six times.

“I am a bit apprehensive about it, but I am looking forward to the challenge. I’ve had challenges my whole life.

“I’m hoping to have raised £150,000 in total for the trust by the end of this trek.”

To date the trust has raised in excess of £100,000

“People have been great and that has always been the common denominator.

“Whether it was through football, in business or after-dinner speaking, it is always people.

“They have stepped up to the plate each time.

“People have been signing up and some are coming from England just to back the charity and try their best, which is great.”

Willie said that he was concerned the number of people going to be screened for cervical cancer was lower than it should be.

He said: “Michelle always wanted to raise awareness. Women are not going in the numbers they should be to get checked.

“There shouldn’t be excuses because this is a serious problem.

“There are different excuses like they have something else on or it is embarrassing, which I can understand, but cancer wasn’t embarrassed when it took my daughter’s life.”

To donate to those going on the trek go to www.michellehendersoncervicalcancertrust.co.uk.