A fundraiser from Chester completed a six-day hike along the Great Wall of China to raise money for an Alzheimer's charity after his dad Ken was diagnosed with the disease.
But tragically, Ed Jones was forced to return home earlier than planned when Ken – who was diagnosed in March last year – took a turn for the worse.
He passed away on Sunday, aged 76, just two days after his son got back to the UK from China.
Ed, 43, said: “I was doing it for my dad. I flew home early and managed to see him before he died.”
Ed, who has so far raised more than £5,600 for the Alzheimer’s Society, was grateful to family and event organisers for their support at the difficult time.
“I’d just like to thank and pay tribute to my family for the considerable effort in getting me home a few days early from Beijing so I got to see my dad before he passed away,” said Ed.
“Also, grateful thanks to Alzheimers.org and Discover Adventure for the way they supported me out in China and for the professional way they helped arrange my return to the UK, as well as helping me to complete the six consecutive days of hiking in China.”
As a group, the 44 hikers who took part have so far managed to raise £185,000 for the Alzheimer's Society.
Ed, who grew up in Mickle Trafford, started hiking in an attempt to lose weight and relieve his sleep apnea.
Using the hashtag ‘helpmetohelpyou#’ on social media, he has raised more than £10,500 for various charities and lost eight stone in weight.
“I started hiking two years ago,” explained Ed. “My first sponsored hike was Manchester to Sheffield for Macmillan Cancer Support. I've also done the Yorkshire Three Peaks.”
As a Chester FC fan and ex-director of fundraising at the football club, Ed has also raised more than £650 for the British Heart Foundation in memory of Blues fan Garry Allen.
"After completing many UK challenges I decided it was time to take on the ultimate,” Ed said of his Great Wall Trek.
“Six days hiking on the old wall and some of the new wall. It’s an absolutely unbelievable part of the world.”
Ed trained for the challenge in China by climbing Snowdon three or four times this year and called it the “ideal training ground” to prepare for the 75km trek which included more than 1,000 flights of stairs.
“It was a once-in-a- lifetime trip. It exceeded my expectations. I’d recommend taking on the Great Wall,” said Ed.
After a well-earned rest, Ed plans to get back on the fundraising trail by hiking the Alps for the Alzheimer’s Society next year.
Donations can still be made to Ed’s Great Wall of China trek fund at www. justgiving.com/fundrais
See full story in the Chester Leader