O Sole Mio! Con’s Big Walk

Michelle Nic Phaidin

Reporter:

Michelle Nic Phaidin

A Newtowncunningham man will bare his sole for charity and undertake a 15km walk from Letterkenny to his home town in aid of the breast unit in Letterkenny General Hospital and the Newtowncunningham Community Development project (NCDI). Good humoured Con Holmes is no stranger to charity work having been associated with previous projects and married to DACC’s well known campaigner, Betty Holmes. The two have been happily married for almost four decades and are very much respected and liked in their home parish as well as further afield.

A Newtowncunningham man will bare his sole for charity and undertake a 15km walk from Letterkenny to his home town in aid of the breast unit in Letterkenny General Hospital and the Newtowncunningham Community Development project (NCDI). Good humoured Con Holmes is no stranger to charity work having been associated with previous projects and married to DACC’s well known campaigner, Betty Holmes. The two have been happily married for almost four decades and are very much respected and liked in their home parish as well as further afield.

“I don’t mind doing the walk in my bare feet, I have been walking around in my bare feet since 2009. We don’t use our feet enough. There are 26 muscles in our feet, if we wear shoes, we only exercise three of these muscles,” he said.

The father of five believes that people who chose to walk with no shoes on should concentrate on not walking on the ball of their feet. “When I walk my feet hardly touch the ground. Don’t walk on the ball of your feet. It takes a little practice and when you first start doing it you can feel it a little bit sore but that soon goes. Your feet align your entire body, so it makes sense that if you wear a pair of shoes with heels that your body is not in its proper alignment. When you walk without shoes your ankles, your knees, your hips and your entire body aligns as it should be,” he said.

He urges people to try it initially in their own homes for around three months and said that people will be surprised at how adaptable their feet actually can be.

Con believes, like Hillary Clinton, that communities are a hugely important part of our every day lives and he does as much as he can to help promote, support and develop community spirit. Over the years he feels that culture has eroded our community culture and that efforts should be made to try and bring it back to the way things used to be. “Hillary Clinton was the first person that I heard say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and I think that there is some truth in that. When I was growing up any one of our neighbours could have put us back in line. Things are changing now, it’s not like it used to be. We have become a little bit too insular. There is a deficit in the community spirit. It isn’t anyone’s fault, it is the culture we have adapted to. We need to redress that,” he said. Con and Betty have both been associated with the NCDI, a community based initiative for many years. “It is a community group that started in 1996. It was then called the Newtowncunningham Community Development Group. In 2003, we had an opportunity to start a company funded by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland. They identified nine community projects, seven in the North and two in the South, They chose the Newtowncunningham project and one in Cavan to fund. They funded the project from 2003 until 2008. We had a difficult time until May 2010. NCDI later became an umbrella group for all the groups in the town. We did get funding through the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) for 30 months and we are now one third of the way through it. We do get money from other agencies as well, from FÁS and Donegal County Council which we are very grateful for,” he said.

The NCDI caters for young and old. “It works for the young and the old. It builds great community spirit and it is also a very good way of identifying people in communities who are dealing with hardships,” he said.

Con has also had experience with cancer and will also be collecting money for the breast unit in Letterkenny. “Because Betty is in the DACC, I have got to know people who have suffered from cancer and in this regard I think that we have to do everything that we can. Betty’s mum had cancer and I have first hand experience of it in my family as well. A friend of mine died from cancer recently and despite the fact that you know that they are dying, it still comes as a shock,” he said.

Con’s family are very proud of him, he is father to four girls, Emma, Karina, Naomi, Laura and one boy Mark who will be driving a van alongside his father on the day. He is also grandfather to four grandchildren, Amy, Breenagh, Molly, Clara and Aidan Con. The entire family are very proud of Con for his efforts to raise community spirit and awareness for two extremely worth while charities.

Sponsor cards are available from Kathleen at the NCDI office (074) 9156898 or by phoning Betty at (087) 2905946. If not there will be a bucket collection on the day and everyone is being urged to give generously. People are also being urged to come out and walk alongside Con and enjoy the experience on the day. Tea will be served at Coyle’s in Newtowncunningham and a nice crowd is expected to attend.

This will not be the first time that Con undertook such a walk for charity. Anyone who would like to view this footage can click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dxNW5wuFEg. The walk will take place from the Dry Arch to Coyle’s pub in Newtowncunningham on Friday, June 22 at 5pm.