WHEN motorists across the length and breadth of Northern Ireland see a man pounding the roads of the province next week with a stove on his back, they will be forgiven for thinking they are hallucinating.
However, if they are not too taken aback they will hopefully stop and give a lift to Portadown Fireplaces sales executive Donald Roe, who is hitch-hiking across Northern Ireland to raise money for the NI Children’s Hospice and Cash for Kids.
Donald, who has been inspired by the example of the author Tony Hawks who famously walked around Ireland with a fridge on his back, has been in training for many weeks, because you do need to be fit to pound the roads with a 4kg stove on your back!
He sets off on Monday for a gruelling five-day challenge that will take him through Armagh, Newry, Warrenpoint, Kilkeel Newcastle and right round the province, coming back through Londonderry, Strabane, Enniskillen and Dungannon and finishing in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter next Friday.
Donald said, “We were talking at Portadown Fireplaces about doing something special to help charity and we remembered Tony Hawks, who later wrote a book and made a movie about what he did,” said Donald.
“We came up with the idea of hitch-hiking with the stove and I think I am the only one here mad enough to do it.
“It’s going to be tough, you can certainly feel the stove when it’s on your back, put it like that. I’ve been training for a while but I’ve no doubt that come next Friday next, when I’m due to finish, I’m going to be pretty sore. Hopefully I won’t have to walk too far each time before someone stops and gives me a lift. I do plan to stop in all of the towns on the route.”
Donald’s fundraiser has certainly caught the imagination of the media. He will be providing regular radio updates to Downtown, U105 and Radio Ulster while four hotels, The Burrendale, The Killyhevlin, The Ramada, Portrush and The Crawfordsburn Inn, have agreed to give him a room for the night completely free of charge.
After the recent poor weather, Donald is packing his wet weather gear, high-visibility vest and an umbrella!
You might expect after such a gruelling week that Donald plans to take it easy next weekend. Think again. A former DJ at Portadown Rugby Club, Donald is booked into his regular DJ slot at the Whiteford Inn in Belfast next Friday night and returns to work on Saturday morning.
Is he a glutton for punishment?!
He said, “After I finish at the Titanic building the plan is to head home to Portadown for a shower and a change, and it’s back to Belfast for my DJ slot on Friday night. I’m working the next morning but that shouldn’t be too tough, because most of that time will be spent talking about what happened to me during the week!”
Go to Portadown Fireplaces or Donald Roe’s Facebook page where you can donate through the Just Giving link or simply text fire12 followed by the amount you wish to donate to 70070. Pay as you go customers will automatically come off your balance, monthly contracts will be added to next month’s bill. You can also donate by calling the Portadown Fireplaces showroom on 02838 333122.