Nigel steps up and out to help charity

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

And Nigel Shaw hopes as many people as possible can join Freya Firth-Robson as she attempts to raise as much money as possible for research into the condition scoliosis.

The intrepid fundraiser is setting off from Edale in Derbyshire and trekking all the way up to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland, some 268 miles of 29 days on the Back the Back Walk.

It is 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.

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

He will also join her on part of her journey because of a personal connection – his own daughter, also called Freya, suffered from scoliosis.

Now he hopes as many people from the area as possible get involved when they are walking on July 2.

“When I saw news of the event and that it would be going near here, I immediately thought of helping her, so I’ve given her use of a two-bedroomed cottage on the night of July 1,” he 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.

“My Freya has recovered really well and has started horse riding again but she can’t do cross country as if you fall off, you can cause yourself a lot of damage.

“And she hopes to join us when we join the other Freya for part of the walk on July 2.”

The walk will see Nigel and Freya Shaw and other family and friends join Freya Firth-Robson at 9am at the top of the A62, where the Pennine Way traverses the road and they will walk with her for part of the mammoth journey.

“It would be great if some of the locals could join us,” added Nigel, who has already supported the Scoliosis Association UK by offering a week-long stay at Diggle House as a prize for a fundraising auction last year.

“What Freya is doing is great to raise research into and awareness of a serious condition. We’ll be there with her for part of it certainly – not long, though, as we’re not keen walkers!”

Freya-Firth-Robson detailed her recovery ahead of starting the Back the Back Walk on June 30, which is also International Scoliosis Awareness Day.

She said: “I was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 11 and less than a year later had corrective surgery at the base of my spine.

“My operation lasted seven hours and involved removing a rib, deflating my lung and inserting 4 titanium screws and a rod to keep my back straight and hold it in position.

“I had to wear a full back brace for six months after the surgery, 23 hours a day, and have a 30cm long scar. Since having my surgery eight years ago, I have led a completely normal life, and have no problems on a daily basis!”

• Anyone interested in joining the two Freyas, Nigel and his family on part of the Back the Back Walk can contact them through Facebook: www.facebook.com/DiggleHouseFarm

Walking the backbone of Britain

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