AN INSPIRATIONAL Welsh woman has begun walking the coastline of Ireland and the UK to raise funds for Alzheimer's Research UK with the past weekend seeing her reach the seaside towns of Portrush, Portstewart, Ballycastle and Rathlin Island.
Karen Penny, who is from Gower Peninsula in South Wales, works a Volunteer Ranger for the National Trust after spending 30 years in the legal profession.
The self-confessed Parkrun addict started her journey, which will take the guts of four years, back in February from Rosslare in Ireland and intends to walk in a clockwise direction around Ireland, finishing her Irish leg of the journey in Autumn 2019.
She will then head to Fishguard and go North along the Welsh Coastline and clockwise around mainland UK. Karen's goal is to walk at least 20 of the largest islands.
The Chronicle caught up with Karen last week as she was getting ready to leave Quigley Point and make her way towards Derry.
Karen was very excited about heading for the North Coast, because she has made it her mission to visit as many National Trust properties as she can along the way and was looking forward to seeing landmarks such as the Giant's Causeway and the Ropebridge.
She explained the reason behind her monumental journey and the passion she has in promoting Alzheimer's Research UK.
Karen said: “My husband Mark lost both his parents to this terrible disease. Alma and Kingsley Faulkner were such lovely genuinely nice people, Alma was the loveliest, sweetest woman you could ever hope to meet, but after her diagnosis of vascular dementia, her whole personality changed. Six months after her diagnosis we had lost her.
“It was only a couple of days after we lost Alma that Kingsley started being forgetful. He would ring us asking what day it was.
“For a very intelligent professor who could speak 11 languages we knew there was only one thing it could be.
“He was diagnosed with cognitive impairment, which was basically early onset dementia and later progressed to Alzheimer's.
“Since he passed away I have been raising awareness for the need for more research. In fact some of my favourite times during the past few months have been when I visited care homes and schools and talked about Alzheimer's.
Karen reached Ballycastle and Rathlin Island on Saturday and was blown away by the kindness of people who offered her food and a roof over her head. She plans to spend Monday night at Ballyeamon Barn near Cushendall before continuing on her way.
To date she has raised £31,500 in just five months – she is looking forward to seeing the final total after
If you want to donate you can either see Karen along the way or go to www.justgiving.com/fun draising/thepennyrollson you can keep up to date with Karen on Twitter @thepennyrollson and on Facebook at Karen Penny The Penny Rolls On.
For more see this week's Ballycastle Chronicle