A resilient station commander from Dunstable cycled solo across Ireland to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Gary Salvage, 51, who works for the fire and rescue service at London Luton Airport, used pedal power to travel across the country from July 8 to 13.
Having planned the route and accommodation himself and with no-one to help carry his belongings, determined Gary completed the course as planned, with stops in Malin Head, Donegal, Sligo, Galway, Ballylongford, and Kenmare, before reaching Mizen Head.
He said: “It was very good. There were farming areas and mountains and I came into contact with the coast. There were also magical views of Killarney National Park.
“One of the things I enjoyed the most was the people. Some are in their mid-70s, running farms. They treat you like a long lost grandson.
“I stayed with one lady who was 5ft 3ins, in her mid-70s, still out milking cows.”
Gary enjoyed working out the logistics, remembering his army motto: ‘Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail’.
He served in the Queen’s Own Hussars tank regiment for four years, spending time in Germany, and has been in the fire service for over 30.
LLA is currently partnered with Macmillan, but Gary was also covering 752km of Ireland for personal reasons.
He said: “I lost my friend, Alan Sinclair, more than 10 years ago to colon cancer.
“He was 49 and I met him in the army. He was my PTI (Physical Training Instructor).
“It was pretty tragic. He was a good boxer. It’s a tough call when your friend is in tears saying, ‘I’m going to die’. Then, my story is no different to the thousands of others...”
To date, Gary has raised £465 for the charity.