A Wooler artist is packing his pencils and panniers ahead of a month-long cycle around Scotland for the Multiple System Atrophy Trust.
Painter and printmaker Jonathan Lloyd will set out on April 1, cycling around the coast of Scotland with a tent and a sketch pad.
The 47-year-old will sketch his way around the Scottish coast, cycling over a thousand miles to Cape Wrath and back again.
He is embarking on the adventure to raise funds and awareness of Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) – a rare neurodegenerative disease which affects about 3,000 people in the UK, including Jonathan’s mother.
“The trip is my way of raising awareness of MSA and also of the countless carers across the spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases,” Jonathan told the Advertiser.
“Finding a cure is always going to be high on the agenda – breakthroughs are sexy, but I think the immediate and less glamorous issue is ‘how do we look after people?’
“It’s not been easy convincing my wife and children that I’m not going off on a month long holiday so now I’m calling it a sabbatical and hopefully I’ll come back with some pictures.”
The precise route is not set in stone, but it will take in some of the most remote and rugged parts of the UK.
Jonathan will start from Wooler and continue up the east coast via Aberdeen and Inverness – then to Cape Wrath right at the north west tip of the country.
“This was a bit of a whim, but I was drawn to it because of its romantic name, its remoteness and it not being John O’ Groats!” he said.
“If my body isn’t in tatters by this point I’ll zig-zag my way down the west coast before heading east for home.
“There’s no back-up - barely a plan in fact - just me and a tent and a sketchbook, although I may take advantage of a few kind offers of a bed for the night and a chance to recharge my batteries literally and metaphorically.”
The work Jonathan makes on the journey will be exhibited later in the year at his studio in Ramsey’s Lane, Wooler, with a third of sales going to the MSA Trust.
MSA is a devastating disease that has many symptoms in common with Parkinson’s. It leads to problems with movement, balance and the automatic functions of the body such as bladder and blood pressure control.
Sufferers sometimes say they feel they are becoming trapped in their own body.
There is currently no known cause or cure.
The Multiple System Atrophy Trust is the only charity in the UK that supports individuals affected by the disease.
“People with MSA can feel so isolated and the trust is often a lifeline to them,” added Jonathan.
It provides a confidential helpline run by specialist nurses, runs support groups and is the UK’s main funder of research.
This is essential to find the cause of MSA and improve the treatment available.
The Trust provides services free of charge and relies entirely on voluntary donations.
You can follow Jonathan’s journey on Facebook at ‘Wooler to Cape Wrath’.