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Walking the long way to Tipperary

Katie Dawson.

Several members of a Kentish Town- Irish family are walking from London to the border of Tipperary to raise funds in memory of their late cousin.

The Dawson family have always participated in fundraising for cancer charities ever since a young David Dawson had leukaemia in his teens. Thankfully David recovered and in gratitude, David and siblings Bernadette, Andrea and Mark have never been shy to raise money for cancer charities.

Last year their cousin Katie Dawson, a barrister based in Ireland, passed away from illness at the age of 41.

The four siblings, along with childhood friend Ben Poole, will walk from London to Tipperary in aid of Women’s Aid, a charity close to her heart, and Momentum children’s charity.

The walk has been long delayed due to Covid as preparations were first underway in early 2020.

With a significant amount of money already raised, the group were ready to set off when lockdown happened literally stopping them in our tracks.

Bernadette Dawson told The Irish World: “We started with the idea of walking for a children’s charity in London. It was because my brother had leukaemia when he was 15.

“He’s fine. He survived, he’s done really well.

“We had a 20 year remission party a few years ago.

The walkers David Dawson, Bernadette Dawson, Andrea Dawson, Mark Dawson and Ben Poole.

“We raised money there for cancer charity. We’ve done walks across London, we do whatever we can whenever we can.

“Momentum children’s charity basically do tailored programmes to help families. They give respite, they take children out on day trips, they give them whatever they need.

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“My brother, when he had leukaemia, the medication that you’re on, it can give you blisters around your mouth and things like that.

“And having little things like a fridge nearby with ice lollies and stuff like that, that helps them.

“We knew that as a family ourselves, all the little bits and bobs that they would need.

“This charity give them whatever they need.

“We thought, ‘Let’s do something that’s a bit different’.

“Our brother had the idea of maybe cycling to Ireland, and then our friend said, ‘No, walking will be a bit more of a challenge, and it will stand out a bit more’.

“So we said, ‘Yeah, let’s do that then’.

“And then we were all ready, all practicing and everything, and then lockdown kicked in and that stopped everything.

“That was two years ago.

“Our cousin died last year. She lived in Dublin. She was a barrister and did a lot of work for Women’s Aid, supported them and helped a lot of women.

“When she died, we just said, ‘Look, if we’re doing a walk from London to Ireland, we should represent Ireland as well, not just have an English charity, have an Irish charity as well’.

“And then we can honour our cousin at the same time. We’d like to do something in her name.

“We thought the second part of the walk could be for Woman’s Aid.”

Bernadette’s cousin Katie Dawson worked with Women’s Aid as well as supporting women through the legal system as a barrister.

“You could be quite intimidated by her because of her knowledge but she would talk to anybody about anything.

“She could sit down and have a big football conversation. She was a Man U fan.

“She could have a conversation about anything and anyone.

“She was just a lovely soul really.

“And she just went too soon. So hopefully, to raise some money in her name is amazing on her behalf.

“I think we saw the effects of the lockdown on vulnerable people.

“You saw in the news the rates of domestic abuse.

“A lot of women were unfortunately stuck in situations, children were being harmed. They’ve witnessed certain things that they shouldn’t have to in their childhood.

“It became more poignant really and then my cousin passed away.

“We kind of decided, ‘We have to do something’.

“We all decided then this would be a good thing to do in her memory, and especially linked with everything’s been going on with the pandemic as well.”

The group are looking at walking a marathon every day of the 12 days of the trip. It could be emotional especially when other family members come to meet them.

“We’re looking at starting the walk on 1 April, It should last about 12 days. So we think the days will probably be about 28 miles a day. It’s like a marathon a day that we’ll be doing.

“Some of our cousins want to actually meet us as well, and walk with us.

“I think we’re going to be so exhausted and drained but when we know that we’re going to be walking for Katie, that will give us another bit of a boost and then our family meeting us will be amazing. I think it will be quite emotional actually.

“We’re representing both countries really. We want to do our best both.

“We’re from Ireland ourselves. Our whole family are from Ireland.

“It’s just nice that we can give something back.”

David Dawson pictured with two Arsenal football players who visited hospital when he had leukaemia.

The Dawsons have family in Tipperary, Limerick and Dublin.

David and Bernadette spent of their childhoods in Ireland while Andrea was actually born there.

“We used to live in Limerick. We have all grown up here. We go back every year. We’re very, very close with our family and our cousins and they’ve all got children now so it’s lovely that our children can mix.”

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