Edinburgh dad marches on in memory of beloved son

A father who tragically lost his son to brain cancer has spent 2021 pounding the pavements to raise funds for charity in his memory.

By James Trimble
Monday, 27th December 2021, 4:55 am

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Mark Stirton from South Gyle Mains, Edinburgh, made it his mission to walk 5000 miles – the equivalent of a trip to the North Pole and back – in 2021, the first year spent without his beloved son Kevin, who died aged just 13 on November 28, 2020.

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Mark with son Kevin - the inspiration behind his 5000-mile walking challenge

The 39-year-old, who works for a car valet contractor, said: “It was a type four glioblastoma brain tumour. As soon as it was diagnosed in October 2019 we knew we only had a matter of months.

"They couldn’t operate because it was so near Kevin’s spine so we had to prepare ourselves. Thankfully Kevin never actually knew how serious it was. If he had realised he would have had a really horrible time and would have been much more scared than he was.

"He was happy right up until the last couple of days.”

Sadly the tumour spread to Kevin’s back and he had to be sedated due to the pain.

"He never woke up,” said Mark, who managed to be there by his son’ s side with ex-wife Emma when the brave boy died in Valencia, Spain.

Returning to Scotland, Mark faced a bleak Christmas without his son.

"It was really near Christmas when it happened,” he said. “It hit us all quite hard. I was having a bad time for two or three weeks afterwards and having a few drinks. I thought I should maybe go out for a walk to clear my head.

"Before I knew it I had walked eight miles.”

It was this walk that gave Mark the idea of how he could honour his son’s memory and get himself back on track at the same time.

"I wondered how long it would take to walk 5000 miles and then I thought why don’t I do it to raise money for charity,” he said.

He set himself the ambitious goal to cover the distance within 12 months.

Now at the end of the year he has topped 4500 miles, averaging 11.5 miles a day, coining in £1500 so far for brain tumour charity the Lewis Moody Foundation and for Ratho Cash for Kids.

He will be striving to cover the remaining 500 miles in 2022.

His most recent marathon undertaking took place on December 23 and December 24 when he covered an amazing 84 miles, walking from Glasgow to Linlithgow, then after getting a shower and some porridge at his South Gyle Mains home, he walked around Edinburgh with friends, then headed for South Queensferry, Blackness and Bo’ness.

He had planned to cover 100 miles, but after arriving in Linlithgow again he found he could not set out for Bathgate.

"My knees started to go,” he laughed.

Knees aside, Mark has lost three stone and is now fighting fit thanks to his walking endeavours. He plans to end his odyssey at the Bridge Inn, in Ratho – the location he and Emma got married.

"Whenever I start to get tired I think of Kevin and what he went through,” said Mark.

People can visit Mark’s Just Giving page if they want to donate to the cause.

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