‘A one in a Gillian’ trip – intrepid brothers take on the Great Wall of China

Richard (left) and Nick Parker at the Great Wall of China
Richard (left) and Nick Parker at the Great Wall of China

TWO intrepid brothers are almost half-way through a once-in-a-lifetime experience in aid of a charity close to their hearts.

Richard and Nick Parker flew to embark on a 100-mile, week-long hike along the Great Wall of China in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, in memory of their mum Gillian.

Nick (left) and Richard Parker at the Great Wall of China

Nick (left) and Richard Parker at the Great Wall of China

The Easington Village pair arrived in Beijing on Monday and have started walking a section of the iconic wall.

Richard, who turns 44 this year – the same age his mum was when she died from breast cancer – contacted the Mail while on the epic trip, which has already seen them conquer Heaven’s Ladder, a steep climb on the route involving around 2,000 steps.

He said: “All is well and the weather is warmer than expected.

“We have conquered Heaven’s Ladder and seen some breathtaking views – no amount of pictures would do justice to the place.”

Richard, who is licensee at JT Finns Irish Bar, in Seaside Lane, Easington Colliery, who is on the walk with other Macmillan fundraisers, added that having reached the peak of the second day of the trip, a minute’s silence for loved ones was held, which was “quite surreal and a very moving moment for everyone”.

He said he and Nick have stayed in a mountain village which was very rural, with an open fire and “a few well-deserved local beers and yet more noodles”.

They set themselves a £10,000 “One in a Gillian” charity challenge in memory of their mum, a former magistrate and member of Easington Parish Council, who died from breast cancer in 1984.

They wanted to reach that figure by this month, the anniversary of the death of Gillian, who is also mum to Stephanie Wilkinson, 46, and Christopher Parker, 48, and was married to Bill.

But they have already surpassed this and raised about £12,000 through various events, including sponsored fitness sessions at Peterlee Leisure Centre, race nights and a Boxing Day dip.

Upon their return the pair will hold a thank-you party for everyone who has donated to their cause at The Half Moon pub in Easington Village on the evening of Easter Sunday, April 20.