46 year old Alex Harling had been living in the Cayman Islands as a Chartered Surveyor until a family tragedy led to his decision to return to his hometown in Staffordshire in late 2017.
“When Dad became seriously ill following a diagnosis of cancer, I decided it was time to leave the Caribbean and move back to Alton where I would be able to spend time with my family.
“When Dad was referred to Dougie Mac’s Day Therapy Unit, we were delighted to see how it lifted his spirits and energised him. He was better on ‘Dougie Mac Days’ and always looking forward to catching up ‘with the boys’, the good friends that he made there on his weekly visits. It also provided Mum with the opportunity to enjoy some much-needed respite and time to herself, safe in the knowledge that Dad was receiving fantastic care.
“During Dad’s tough final months in 2017 and 2018, the hospice became his (and Mum’s) lifeline. They both benefitted from the reflexology service which helped to relieve tension and promote relaxation, and also took up the offer of counselling. Having open and honest chats with Dougie Mac’s Counselling team meant that Mum and Dad could better make sense of the confusing emotions that accompany such difficult times, and it helped them adopt a more positive mind-set.
“Dad passed away in March 2018. Although incredibly difficult for Mum and I to deal with, we know that Dougie Mac allowed Dad to die with dignity. They offered us support, company, comfort, empathy, companionship, sympathy, cups of tea and so much more at a time when we really needed it.
“Dad’s the reason I choose to support Dougie Mac. Palliative care is something you just don’t consider until you, or someone you know needs it, and then it really hits you hard – how essential it is and the huge impact it has on the lives of those using its services. I cannot stress enough the benefit the Dougie Mac offers those in their need.”
To raise money and awareness for the charity that helped his family during dark times, adventure-seeker Alex has opted to embark on a seriously challenging cycle route, ‘Tour D’Afrique.’ He’ll be exploring Africa, by bike, from Cairo to Cape Town, covering a colossal distance of almost 12,000km.
“I’ve been interested in experiencing Africa at a very personal level for years; the sights, the sounds, the people and every bump. The route I’m taking on, albeit the toughest one so far, allows me to see ten countries in one go. It will be a mammoth physical challenge as I’m expecting to cycle just under 80 miles per day in 50°C heat, but I’m raring to go and see what awaits.”
Alex is no stranger to pushing himself to the limit as he has previously taken on a number of mammoth challenges including cycling across the USA from the East to West Coast and a number of daring swims such as a 20km circuit around Key West in the Florida Keys.
“It’s important for me to give back to a cause that helped out my family so much. I’ve also found that doing things like this brings out the best in others, and seems to bring other positive people my way. That’s part of the life-changing nature of such trips. It’s very rewarding to raise money like this, especially when the funds enable such a wonderful charity to care for families like my own.
Sean Poole, Event & Challenge Fundraiser, commented:
“We can’t thank Alex enough for taking on this extreme fundraiser for the hospice, and we look forward to hearing all about his voyage through ten countries and almost 12,000km of African land. All monies raised will help us deliver excellent care to local people approaching end of life.”
To support Alex in his daring once-in-a-lifetime adventure for which he departs on 17th January, head over to his fundraising page to make a donation: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alex-harling2.