Published on : Saturday, March 18, 2017
Cancer survivor and golf industry veteran Nick Edmund has completed the first 200km of a 2,000km-plus charity walk along the entire length of Ireland’s west coast Wild Atlantic Way – carrying a set of golf clubs on his back and playing one hole at golf courses along the route.
The 56-year-old former Faldo Design Managing Director, who is in remission for head and neck cancer, began marching forth on his mammoth trek on 4 March from Malin Head, Ireland’s most northerly point, accompanied on the first leg by his wife, Teresa, and eldest son, George, who is 20.
Nick’s walk, which IAGTO is supporting as an official sponsor, is even more remarkable as he embarked on it just three months after a hip replacement operation. It is the launch campaign for the Global-Golf4-Cancer fundraising organisation he set up to help local cancer charities and which he hopes will be followed by events all round the world, backed by the golf industry. The Wild Atlantic Way walk is raising money for west Ireland charity, Cancer Care West.
He is walking in two stages, the first taking him to Galway where he will finish on 1 May. After a break for the summer, to avoid tourist traffic on the roads and to protect himself from the sun – he has also had skin cancer – Nick will resume his walk on 4 September, finishing at the Old Head of Kinsale on 1 November, where his 18-year-old son, Max, will join him for the final day.
The route is taking Nick past 40 golf courses and he is stopping off to play the 4th hole, planting the Global-Golf4-Cancer flag on each one. So far he has played at seven courses, starting with Ballyliffin Golf Club’s two championship courses, and the latest being at Dunfanaghy Golf Club in Donegal.
Speaking to IAGTO while taking a short roadside break, interrupted by two motorists who both stopped to give him €10, Nick says he has been overcome by the welcome, support and generosity of the Irish, from the general public who had heard of his walk to the golf clubs and their members.
“The support I have had has been more overwhelming than I expected. It’s quite moving and absolutely motivating, and that’s what is keeping me going,” he adds.
The generosity has not only been from people donating money. Nick has booked B&Bs and small hotels to stay overnight during his walk and already he has been offered accommodation or meals en route. Luxury Donegal hotel Rathmullan House was fully booked with a wedding group so could not put him up but instead offered him dinner and a massage – and the masseuse turned out to be the cousin of Irish superstar singer Enya, of whom Nick is a huge fan.
Nick admits he was crazy to undertake the walk just three months after getting his new hip, the minimum recovery period after such an operation, but adds: “The good news is that while my leg was aching after the first two or three days and I have been walking with a limp, it is getting stronger because of the distance I have walked. I am determined to carry on and finish.”
The one-time four handicapper is carrying four golf clubs on his journey, having settled on his driver, five iron, eight iron and putter. But the bag is far heavier than it would be with his full set of clubs because he is also carrying everything he needs for his walk, including several days’ worth of underwear, spare pairs of trousers and shoes, jumpers and waterproofs, as well as snacks and water.
As for his Global-Golf4-Cancer campaign, Nick says the idea came to him after going on a trek with cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support after leaving Faldo Design, which he had headed up for 15 years, four years ago. That was in 2013. In April 2014, he was diagnosed with stage three head and neck cancer, but is thankful that he was operated on quickly.
“I have a glass half full attitude and emotionally I was able to handle it very well,” he says. “Ireland was the best place to launch the inaugural campaign and I thought ‘I am just going to do this.’”
Nick adds: “The walk is essentially intended to launch and raise awareness for the wider on-going global campaign. The Wild Atlantic Way campaign is not a one-off or a stand-alone event, either, in that I hope it is repeated and that there are ad hoc events this year and every year.”
Explaining IAGTO’s backing, Chief Executive Peter Walton says: “I have followed the organisation’s evolution over the past couple of years and I really believe that this is something that the golf tourism industry can get behind across the globe with ease and effectiveness. Right from the off, IAGTO is fully committed to supporting Global-Golf4-Cancer and the enormous efforts that Nick is making.”
Walton adds: “As an association that is proud of its record in diligently supporting its members, it seemed only right that IAGTO should sponsor Nick’s undergarments, socks and shirts to give him a sturdy foundation for the task ahead!”