A SHIRLEY man put his best foot forward in honour of a boy with a rare genetic disorder he did not know.
Paul Whittingham walked 150miles from Milngarvie to Dundee in Scotland in honour of Sheldon youngster Hugh Murphy who has been diagnosed with FOXG1 syndrome, which affects less than 450 people worldwide.
Hugh is unable to sit, stand or walk independently, he can’t talk, is registered blind and needs to be fed through a tube.
The nine year-old has frequent life-threatening seizures and regularly requires resuscitation and admission to hospital.
Paul was determined to help after reading about Hugh’s life on Facebook from swimming therapy to Hugh not being able to have his weekly Friday night 80s disco after his favourite radio station changed to DAB radio.
Armed with a DAB radio, Paul handed it over to Hugh’s family so they could once again dance their nights away.
A few months later Paul contacted Hugh’s mum, Emma, saying he wanted to raise money in honour of Hugh for FoxG1 UK which supports families of those with the syndrome and funds research into the condition.
Paul set out to raise £1,000 as he made his way from Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire then to Glasgow and Edinburgh along the Fife Coastal Path and Tay Road Bridge before finishing in Dundee as part of his mission to walk a complete circle in Scotland.
This is his third walk – before now he has walked the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way which took him from Milngarvie to Inverness via Fort William on the West side of Scotland.
The 71-year-old said: “You cannot help loving the little Hugh because he seems so cheerful despite all his problems
“I had the thought that as the walk was in place if I set up a justgiving page for his charity FOXG1 I could raise money for them.
“I wanted to meet Hugh and his dog before the walk as I knew this will give me the inspiration I would need to finish the walk.
“I have the photo of Hugh and me in my pocket so when the walk gets tough I look at it and think ‘Come on whimp Hugh and his family have tougher thing to worry about than you,’ and it really did encourage me to pick up the pace.”
Hugh’s mum, Emma, said: “I’m amazed and honoured that Hugh has inspired a stranger to raise money for a charity he knew nothing about previously.
“It’s heart warming and reminds you that there really are some good, kind, genuine people in the world.”
For more or to donate visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-whittingham7