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Ex-Down GAA boss prepares for gruelling Camino Way walk

A FORMER Down GAA manager is aiming to raise thousands of pounds for charity by undertaking the renowned 500-mile Camino Way walk in Spain in the footsteps of travellers from medieval times.

Jackie McManus (67), from Dunmurry, is currently under-going a strict training regime to prepare for his gruelling five-week trek, which starts in the French Pyrenees on June 18.

The retired school teacher, who taught at St Patrick's College, Bearnageeha, is then due to pass through Pamplona, famous for its bull run, before reaching Camino de Santiago de Compostella.

It was during a holiday in Santiago last year that the Dunmurry man found himself inspired by the sight of pilgrims entering the famous square with its spectacular cathedral.

Having played soccer for Coleraine and Dundalk, and having won a senior GAA championship medal for Antrim, Jackie is hoping his sporting background will help him with the physical demands of the walk.

Well-known in GAA circles, Jackie managed and steered Down club St Mary's, Burren, to great success, and later managed Down, leading the team to a Dr McKenna Cup triumph.

Jackie is hoping to raise thousands of pounds for the Children's Hospice.

He said he decide to under-take the challenge because anyone who has "ever seen a child suffering from terminal illness is moved to help".

"I am also mindful of friends who lost a much-loved granddaughter and then went on a charity walk for kidney re-search," he said.

"I have been overwhelmed by the sponsorship that's already come from business people and friends. My bank Santander has pledged support and has set up a dedicated account where people can send a contribution."

Donations to the appeal can be made via: Jackie's Charity Walk; Bank of Santander, 6 Royal Avenue, Belfast. Account number: 62799770. Sort code: 090128.

* LEADING THE WAY: Retired teacher and former Down GAA manager Jackie McManus is preparing for the 500-mile Camino Way walk in Spain to raise funds for the Children's Hospice Picture: Mal McCann

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