A MANCHESTER man who only learned to swim last year is attempting to cross the Irish Sea in a kayak in honour of his late sister.
Alan Creedon set off on the 400-mile journey on foot from his home in Levenshulme, Manchester on May 5 and hopes to walk into Dingle, Co. Kerry on the same day next month.
On Sunday Alan is expected to reach the port town of Holyhead in Wales, where he is planning to paddle his way across the sea to Dún Laoghaire in Dublin within 24 hours, in tribute to his sister Aoife - who had cerebral palsy and died five years ago aged 33.
The former vegetable grower, whose Irish family are based in Dingle, quit his job to focus on the challenge, leaving his three-year-old daughter Rae and wife Beth in Levenshulme.
Mr Creedon will be accompanied by kayaking expert Mike Alexander from the Outward Bound Trust for the channel crossing.
The duo are expected to leave Holyhead before midnight on Sunday, depending on tidal and weather conditions, arriving into Dublin the following evening.
Asked if he is expecting a welcome party at the port when he arrives in Dún Laoghaire, he said: "I’ll certainly have someone there to take me to a bed, hopefully it won’t be a hospital bed."
Mr Creedon's sister, who passed away in 2011, couldn’t walk, talk or communicate throughout her life and Alan says his #WalkforAoife challenge is his way of paying tribute to her life.
“This walk is also a way for me to understand my own relationship with my sister, as with many families who have a family member with cerebral palsy, there were many emotional challenges with having Aoife in our family. And now she has passed on it is time for me to process what she meant to me as a sister, sibling and friend,” said Alan.
His challenge has echoes of his own father’s charity walk from Cork to Dublin in 1969, in aid of Gorta’s Freedom from Hunger campaign.
“The help I’ve received from people has been humbling," he said.
"I’ve been shown such generosity and kindness and support so much of the way and this is what makes the journey and makes me who I am. I’m learning so much from people’s kindness that I wish only to be so kind to others,” he said.
Alan created two Justgiving pages, to raise money for mental health charity Mind and housing charity Camphill Community Dingle, with a combined total of over £6000 raised so far.