Two years ago the prospect of taking one million steps – the equivalent of scaling Everest twice –would have seemed completely out of reach for John Bevan.
For a time just one was the challenge, as the retired Aberdeen doctor had to learn how to walk again after surviving a stroke in August 2018.
Not yet well enough to return to the front lines and help during the pandemic, Dr Bevan was keen to use his time in coronavirus lockdown to make a difference.
Spurred on by a “crazy thought”, the 66-year-old has now completed a mammoth task, raising thousands of pounds for global charities in the process.
Dr Bevan said: “Things changed forever when I had a stroke.
“I was weak down my right side, had difficulty speaking and was very tired. Progress was slow.
“On return home, I remember my first faltering steps around the house.
“With the help of family and a great NHS rehabilitation team, the slow return to a ‘new normal’ began and, thankfully, has continued.”
He added: “My wife and I entered lockdown on March 17, and I was not fit enough to consider returning to NHS work.
“But I had a crazy thought: ‘What about trying to walk a million steps in lockdown, without leaving the garden?’.”
In recent weeks Dr Bevan, a former consultant hormone specialist, has trekked more than 400 miles up and down the steep slopes of his back garden.
His efforts have raised £12,000, which he has split between the charities International Justice Mission (IJM), Stroke Association and When You Wish Upon a Star, which helps brighten the lives of youngsters with life-limiting illnesses.
The doctor added: “On the day the walk finished, the fund reached £12,000 which is fantastic – more than a penny per step.
“We hope for even more and the three charities will be pleased that people have been so generous at this time.”
David Westlake, the chief executive of International Justice Mission, said: “The Covid-19 lockdowns have disproportionately affected the most vulnerable people around the world, leading to increases in deeply disturbing crimes like online sexual exploitation of children and domestic violence.
“We are extremely grateful to IJM champions like John who are willing to go above and beyond to stop abuse and exploitation.
“It’s incredible that by walking in a garden in Aberdeen, John will help children in countries like the Philippines to be freed from trafficking.”
For more information visit: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MillionSteps.