Epic Oz trip for Norwich man

A retired engineer who lost his wife to cancer will be embarking upon an epic 8,500km motorcycle ride across Australia.

Peter and Linda Walker had always dreamed of taking a road trip across Australia, but cruelly never got the chance to fulfil that ambition as Linda was diagnosed with cancer and died less than two years later in January 2009.

After narrowly escaping a house fire in Ireland, Mr Walker, 57, decided he had to grab life's opportunities and vowed to complete the country-crossing expedition, from Brisbane to Perth, while raising money for the Big C and Macmillan Cancer Support.

The dad-of-three, from Thorpe St Andrew, is funding the cost of the trip himself, so every penny raised will be going to the two charities.

When his wife was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in March 2007, the couple both used the Big C Centre in the grounds of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Mr Walker said: 'The Big C Centre was a relaxing place to have a cup of tea in between Linda's treatments, but not only that, there are so many facilities available there for patients and carers alike. It's great to have a facility like Big C and to meet other people who know what you're going through.'

Previous to Mrs Walker's diagnosis, the couple had discussed investing in a camper van and travelling around Australia together.

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But it was during a recent stay with his son in Ireland that a dramatic turn of events made him decide to take the three-month trip on his own.

In the early hours of the morning he was woken by the smell of smoke. A raging fire was destroying the old farmhouse adjacent to his son's converted barn and would have spread to where the family was sleeping had the fire brigade not arrived.

Mr Walker said: 'I suddenly thought, when it was all over and we were all out of the house, that you're alive and you've got to keep living and so I was inspired to do this trip.'

His trip, for which he will be hiring an XVS 1300 Yamaha motorbike, begins on October 1 and is due to finish on December 10, and he hopes to raise �8,000.

Big C's Jessica Bygrave said: 'Peter has already raised a considerable amount towards Big C's work through the Linda Walker Lavender Fund.

'Our lavender funds are tribute funds set up by Big C, and are special ways of remembering a loved one while greatly helping those affected by cancer.'

Helen Chapman, fundraising manager for Macmillan Cancer Support, said: 'Peter is an inspiration to others and all of us here at Macmillan are thrilled to have his support.

'We all wish him good luck and thank him for choosing us.'

To donate, log on to www.justgiving.com/PeterbikesOzBigC and go to www.justgiving.com/peterbikesOzmacmillannurses.

For more information about Big C and the services available in Norfolk, contact Jessica Bygrave on 01603 619900. For queries about the work of Macmillan Cancer Support, contact Helen Chapman on 01603 724360.

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk.