A FORMER CID chief and BBC investigator is preparing to mark his 70th birthday by trekking from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise funds for Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice.

Tony Hennigan, who lived in Stainforth near Settle for 16 years after leaving the police, and now lives near Knaresborough, will set off from Land’s End in Cornwall on April 27 and hopes to reach John O’Groats in Scotland around two months later.

It is not the first time he has taken on the epic 1,000-mile route and it follows previous expeditions for his 50th and 60th birthdays, when he raised thousands for Children in Need. In 2001 he was accompanied by his Irish Red Setter Bess and a decade later by Rua, also an Irish Red Setter. Rua, who is now nearly 12, will be by his side again for this third and final challenge.

Throughout the journey Tony will be entirely self-sufficient, refusing lifts and public transport and carrying all his essentials in one rucksack. In line with Covid restrictions, he will initially sleep at campsites and then use bed and breakfast accommodation along the route.

The fundraising challenge is in aid of Manorlands in Oxenhope, which provides expert palliative care and support to people living with life-limiting conditions, and their families. Tony said: “Fortunately at the moment my family are fit, healthy and thriving - but not everyone is so lucky. I have seen first-hand the love, friendship and compassion that Manorlands offers to all those it cares for and there really was no other choice when deciding which charity I should support.

“The Coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on their funding and I hope the money raised will help them continue to improve the quality of life for people at times of crisis and upset in their lives.”

Tony and many of his friends are long-term supporters of the hospice and have donated hundreds of pounds on significant birthdays over the years.

Hayley Ibbotson, senior community fundraiser, said: “This is an incredible challenge and we’re so grateful to Tony for choosing to support the hospice so we can continue to be there when it matters for patients and their families. We wish him and Rua the very best of luck – we’re sure they will have lots of ‘tails’ to tell when they return!”

Tony has been a regular blood donor for 50 years and recently received an award for donating his 750th unit. He hopes that people who are unable to donate money may instead consider becoming a blood donor.

Tony hopes to raise £3,000. To donate and support him in his Land’s End to John O’Groats challenge, visit: justgiving.com/fundraising/anthony-hennigan

For more information about Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice, visit: sueryder.org/how-we-can-help/sue-ryder-manorlands-hospice