In the ongoing fight against motor neurone disease (MND), the courage and determination of figures like Rob Burrows, the late Doddie Weir, and Ed Slater have inspired many to contribute to the cause. Among them is John Newell, a Freemason and rugby player, who embarked on a fundraising journey that has left a significant impact.
Newell, whose rugby league career spanned ten years, including stints at Workington Town and Carlisle Border Raiders clubs, was moved to action after watching a TV program about Rob Burrows. “I had an ex-teammate who sadly died of MND, so we just wanted to do something to help,” Newell said. This inspiration led him to walk from his home in Prospect near Aspatria to Blackpool Tower, a journey that spanned 100 miles.
The journey was dubbed the ‘Tower-to-Tower’ walk, and the team, nicknamed the ‘Prospect Proclaimers’, completed the challenge in less than five days. Despite the physical exhaustion, the team was uplifted by the support they received along the way, including a video message from Gary McKee, known as ‘The Marathon Man’.
The initial fundraising target was set at £2500 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA), but the overwhelming support saw this target quickly surpassed. A revised target of £7777 was set and exceeded, with the team raising a total of £17,900. Funds continue to come in from various sources, including the sale of rugby shirts donated from as far away as Australia.
In addition to the ‘Tower-to-Tower’ walk, Newell, his wife, young daughter, and Bro. David Lunney have attended MNDA events, raising money with bucket collections at Leeds Rhinos games at Headingley stadium, and an England vs France MNDA friendly rugby match. These collections alone raised an additional £6,000.
Through their efforts, Newell and his team have shown that every step, every mile, and every penny counts in the fight against MND.