Hero’s welcome awaits charity cyclist on Greek trek

John Wilson with Charlotte Scheffman and Louise Gilligan from Accrington and Rossendale College
John Wilson with Charlotte Scheffman and Louise Gilligan from Accrington and Rossendale College

A welcome fit for the gods awaits a Burnley man who will be undertaking his very own Greek odyssey when he cycles 2,000 miles from Britain to Corfu.

Former soldier and police officer John Wilson’s ambitious plan, featured in the Burnley Express in January, was spotted by Corfu organisation “Ionian Inspires”.

His planned journey reminded us of Odysseus’ travels and his arrival in Corfu, thousands of years ago

Takis Anagnostakos, from Ionian Inspires

The group contacted John through the Burnley Express and promised a warm welcome when he is due to arrive on the island on July 27th.

The 53-year-old is raising money for the British Heart Foundation after suffering a heart attack, probably triggered by stress when he was attacked while working as a police officer in London.

Takis Anagnostakos, from Ionian Inspires, said: “Our goal is to highlight the impact that Ionian Islands have had to humanity and people.

“John’s story and intentions inspired us and urged us to bring out the passion for life and the compassion for others through this life changing event.

“His planned journey reminded us of Odysseus’ travels and his arrival in Corfu, thousands of years ago.

“Therefore, we would like to celebrate his adventure and welcome him to the island as King Alcinous did for Odysseus. We intend to organise an appropriate celebration in the same ancient port to show his efforts and actions for a good life as ancient Greeks lived.

“We want to make John’s story known to many as possible, in Greece and in the rest of the world. A modern day Odyssey.”

John, who has accepted the invitation, said the message was typical of Greek hospitality.

He said: “I have been visiting Corfu for several years now with my wife Shirley, and so I am not surprised by this lovely message.

“However, I would say it’s the first time I’ve ever been compared to a god! I chose Corfu as my final destination because Shirley got engaged there we have some Greek friends on the island who we also plan to visit. I definitely plan to have a few cold beers on arrival.”

A film crew from Accrington and Rossendale College, which is also sponsoring John, will be capturing his epic journey from his departure in June.

He will cycle from the BHF shop in Burnley to Birmingham and onto Dover before crossing to France where he will stop to lay a wreath at the grave of Shirley’s great uncle, George Bradley, who died while serving with the Accrington pals during the First World War.

To sponsor John visit www.justgiving.com/btredz.