30 May 2024

John and Andy finishing at Land's End
John and Andy finishing at Land's End

Five years ago, John Humpish was warned by clinicians that he may never be able to fully walk again. However, this May, he walked from John O’Groats to Land’s End, a distance of over 1,200 miles and has raised over £58,000 for London’s Air Ambulance Charity – the charity that saved his life.

After an undiagnosed blood cancer caused a pulmonary embolism, John suddenly could not breathe in King’s Cross Station. Luckily, London’s Air Ambulance’s advanced trauma team was dispatched and brought with them the drugs required to save John.

Thankfully, John made a full recovery, with a new appreciation for walking. “It was worrying when the consultant mentioned I may have difficulty walking and rehab showed me that walking was something easily taken for granted.

“It was then the idea of a walking challenge was born!”

John and Andy starting at John O'Groats
John and Andy starting at John O'Groats

To celebrate his full recovery and fundraise for London’s Air Ambulance Charity, a few years later John and his friend Andy planned a spectacular walking route from John O’Groats to Land’s End, a route of 1,200 miles.

“We walked 65 days in a 79-day period,” said John. “We thought our feet would give us problems but luckily both were relatively blister-free”.

“Our legs, however, got tighter as we went on – stiles were not our friends by the end, with lifting a leg a great risk!”

John and Andy set off on 1 March and returned home mid-May. “The beginning in Scotland was tough, almost every day you’re doing a Munro! We knew though that if we could do the first month in Scotland, we could do the rest in England.”

Once they crossed into England, often friends, family and sometimes even London’s Air Ambulance Charity staff would join them for a section of the walk.

“There was so much emotion and positivity flowing around, it was contagious,” said Andy. “The biggest highlight for me was how much recognition the charity got.

“We would tell someone what we were doing and when they found out it was for the air ambulance charity, they’d readily reach into their pockets. It was phenomenal, unexpected and very humbling.”

John and Andy’s incredible fundraising total will make a huge difference; helping our medics save more lives in London every day. We are so grateful – as well as impressed with their amazing achievement.

“I’m not sure it’s fully kicked in yet that we’ve actually done it,” said John.

“I got given my entire life back and I recognise that – I feel lucky, privileged and so glad I could pay some of that forward and help the service that served me so well.”

John is now encouraging someone to take on the challenge and reverse his route – walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats. If you’re interested in a fundraising challenge and helping save lives in London, please get in contact on [email protected].

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