Diggle business steps up to help Freya achieve her goal

A KIND-HEARTED Saddleworth businessman did his bit to help a woman on a charity trek along the entire length of the Pennine Way.

When Nigel Shaw heard about Freya Firth-Robson’s bid to walk 268 miles to raise as much money as possible for research into the condition scoliosis, he immediately lent a hand.

He allowed her to stay at Diggle House Farm overnight after she completed day two of the trek, which she completed in a total of 19.

There was also a personal reason for his gesture as his own daughter, also called Freya, suffered from the condition.

Freya Firth-Robson, a 20-year-old music student at Durham University, set off from Edale in Derbyshire and trekked all the way up to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland during the Back the Back Walk.

She met up with Nigel as she completed her stage from Crowden in Derbyshire – more than 10 miles – and they saw her off at Brun Clough Reservoir on the A62 and joined her for part of her journey as she set off for Hebden Bridge, just over 16 miles.

And she admitted the thought of a ‘lovely cup of tea’ on her arrival was her motivation that day!
As she set off, she even praised the Independent, saying: “A glorious stay at Diggle House Farm and a great start with local papers coming to see us off.”

Freya Firth-Robson’s journey was all for a good cause as the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Charity and Scoliosis Campaign Fund, which incorporates the Scoliosis Association UK and the British Scoliosis Research Foundation will benefit to the tune of up to £5,000.

When Nigel, who runs Diggle House Farm with wife Abi, heard the fundraiser was coming nearby, he threw open his doors and has given her use of one of his cottages for a night.

Another local supporter – Ed Stacey from Greenfield – also walked the whole of the Pennine Way and helped raise sponsorship.

While Freya Firth-Robson was advised to take rest days after every five, Ed ploughed on and completed the feat non-stop.

“When I saw news of the event and that it would be going near here, I immediately thought of helping her, so I gave her use of a two-bedroomed cottage,” Nigel said.

“My Freya had the exact same condition and she has 18-inch rods in her back after having the operation just after she had turned 14 in August 2014.

“The charities that both research the condition and help sufferers are both underfunded and small and there’s not a great deal of research into scoliosis.”

An early start at 9am saw Nigel and daughter Freya join the other Freya and Ed at the top of the A62, where the Pennine Way traverses the road.

Ed said: “I am so glad I did the walk – I’m still buzzing about it – it was fantastic.

“There were no injuries/blisters/midge bites or seriously getting lost – so none of the possible downsides happened.

“I was walking between six and nine hours a day for 16 days through jaw dropping scenery on often difficult terrain and very indeterminate ‘paths’ – not paths as we would classify them!

“I ate and drank loads. Pub meals, lots of lovely craft beers, full English breakfasts and have shed three kilos! How good is that!

“Thankfully, the weather was ideal as well. There were just two short spells of low cloud – at Black Hill in Saddleworth of course and the fearsome High Cup Nick, which was scary).

“And there was virtually no rain for me. Just two one hour rain showers on July 13, Freya caught a day of rain on July 17.”

Freya-Firth-Robson, who was diagnosed with scoliosis aged 11, eventually completed the walk with the near 15 mile trek from Windy Gyle in Northumberland to Kirk Yetholm.

She exclaimed: “MADE IT!!! I cannot believe it’s over!! An absolutely stunning day of walking, although a little cold and a tiny bit wet in the middle.

“It feels so strange knowing that I don’t have to get up early and put on walking boots in the near future, although I don’t think my feet will be complaining too much!

“Having just walked 268 miles, tackling Britain’s toughest National Trail, I really can’t believe that eight years ago I was in a full back brace and barely had the stamina to walk to the car.

“Scoliosis and spinal fusion surgery does not have to limit your actions and you can still achieve the goals you set yourself, even ridiculous ones like walking the Pennine Way!!

“A huge thank you to everyone who walked with me, donated and/or helped behind the scenes in any other way. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

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