Haverhill landscaper prepares for long trek in dad’s memory

Liam Staples is preparing to walk the Camino Frances in June to raise money for St Nicholas Hospice Care
Liam Staples is preparing to walk the Camino Frances in June to raise money for St Nicholas Hospice Care

A young man who lost his ‘best friend’ when his father died days before Christmas will honour his final wishes by walking the Camino Frances in aid of the hospice.

Liam Staples and his father, Mark, began walking the Camino de Santiago from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, in France, to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in Spain, in 2014.

Liam's dad, Mark Staples

Liam's dad, Mark Staples

It had been on Mark’s ‘to do’ list for a long time but the pair were forced to abandon the route when Mark suffered a ruptured hernia on their third day, fives miles from the Spanish town of Roncesvalles.

They planned to return in September last year and were packed ready to go when Mark received the devastating news that he had cancer.

He deteriorated quickly and passed away a week before Christmas, on December 18, at the age of 52. He never did return to the Camino.

Now Liam, 27, is planning to carry out his father’s wishes by returning to complete the walk alone in June.

It is almost 500 miles long and usually takes up to 35 days to complete, but Liam plans to add an extra 66 miles to his journey so that he can say a prayer and throw a stone, of religious significance to Mark, into the ocean.

Liam, a landscaper from Haverhill, said: “We were inseparable, me and him. I class myself as a loner, my best friend was my dad.

“I said ‘if you’re feeling up to it, let’s go and do it’. I was just going for moral support.

“Then a week or so before going we got the devastating news that he had oesophageal cancer. After that my world came crashing down. I did not know what to think or do.”

Days later Liam, his mum Sue and his four brothers and two sisters found out the cancer was terminal and they were unlikely to have much time left with Mark.

During his short illness Mark spent some time at St Nicholas Hospice Care.

Liam said his father ‘absolutely loved’ the hospice and asked him to donate ‘not a stupid amount but a healthy amount’ to the charity.

So Liam has decided to complete the Camino Frances for the hospice and has set himself a £10,000 target.

Of the hospice, he said: “A lot of people struggle and I just want to put the word out there. I want people to know that there’s help, you can rely on these people because they’re still there for me to this day.”

To donate, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/oneemotionaljourney.