IT WILL be a birthday to remember for a Middleton man as he celebrates his 50th by trekking the Great Wall of China next year.
Paul Thomas, who runs the Middleton-on-Sea post office, in Middleton Road, is the latest addition to sign up for the Chestnut China Challenge.
The event will be supporting Sussex’s only children’s hospice, Chestnut Tree House, based in Poling, near Arundel.
The 49-year-old had been looking for a special way of celebrating his half century when he read an article in the Observer about next year’s intrepid trail.
Paul, a councillor with Middleton-on-Sea Parish Council, jumped at the chance.
He said: “I had been looking for something special to do for my 50th. I didn’t want a party. I wanted to do something that meant something.
“And when I saw the news article in the paper, I just knew this was it.
“I’m lucky to have spent 50 years on this planet and those children are obviously not that lucky. I really just wanted to give something back.”
Paul, whose birthday is in March, already knew about Chestnut Tree House as his post office has a charity box and sells raffle tickets for Chestnut.
So doing the trek for the hospice was an easy choice, he said.
His wife Sarah, 48, has been very supportive in his decision to tackle the trek and is helping spread the word about his involvement.
One of Paul’s friends, who runs a chocolate company, has already pledged a slice of her profits for the next year as sponsorship. And he is already planning his own fundraisers to raise the minimum £2,800 sponsorship needed to join the adventure, next October.
“It’s a bit daunting to be taking part in it,” he admitted. “They say that on some days we could be trekking for eight or nine hours.
“Now I’m not unfit, but I have never done any trekking before so it will certainly be a challenge.”
Paul is now appealing for other people to join him on the fundraiser.
“What better way is there to see something like the Great Wall, walk it and help do something good for charity? You can really help to raise a lot of money for a really good cause.”
For more details on the challenge or to join it, see www.chestnut-tree-house.org.uk or call 01903 706355.
Chestnut Tree House cares for about 300 children and young adults from across the county and south-east Hampshire with progressive, life-limiting conditions.
It offers support for the whole family, including psychological and bereavement support.