Leeds lad Nathaniel's 200-mile charity walk to raise money for girlfriend's Lyme disease treatment

A Leeds man is set to take on a charity walk for more than 28 miles - A DAY - for one week, all in the name of love.

By Richard Beecham
Thursday, 14th April 2022, 4:45 am

Twenty-four-year-old India Matthews contracted Lyme disease while travelling around Asia back in 2016 and still needs numerous courses of antibiotics and therapies to help overcome her illness.

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But boyfriend Nathaniel Pell, from Alwoodley, is prepared to go the extra mile - or 200 - as he plans to walk all the way from north Leeds to India's front door in Bath, Somerset in just seven days.

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Nathaniel and India outside Leeds Civic Hall.

It is through this that he hopes to raise £10,000 to go towards India's treatments.

Despite the walk being more than a month away, Nathaniel has already started training hard.

"I do like running, but I've just been building up bigger walks," he said. "I did a 14-mile walk round Harrogate and Knaresborough with my friends on Saturday, but I've just been building it up.

"I'm going to keep running and, every weekend where I can, I am going to try a slightly longer walk each time.

India has described what Nathaniel is doing as "amazing".

India was bitten by an insect in Thailand when travelling in 2016 and quickly developed symptoms including blurred vision, numbness and fatigue. She would soon start having seizures and experience temporary bodily paralysis.

“I would cry myself to sleep only to dream about what was going on in my body," said India. "It felt like my tingling nerves were being electrocuted and in turn would make me feel spaced out and give me headaches. I began to notice body parts weren’t moving as they should; my legs would take time to register what my brain was telling them, causing me to trip and stumble.

"I struggled to string a coherent sentence together, it felt like my brain forgot how to speak and understand English, as if it was covered by an unmissable fog. Constant air hunger caused me to feel as if I was suffocating from the inside out.”

Despite visiting numerous doctors, it was not until a year and a half after her first symptoms that India was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease - a bacterial infection spread by ticks.

While her condition has improved over the years, India still suffers from many of her old symptoms, and needs strong antibiotics and numerous therapies - many of which are not available on the NHS and have to be funded by India and her family themselves.

Nathaniel, 25, was already a keen runner and eager to do what he could to help. He set up a gofundme page for a sponsored walk, which will see him walking a colossal average of 28.5 miles a day for a week. At the time of writing, the page has reached £4,978 in donations.

"It's absolutely amazing to have got to nearly £5,000," said Nathaniel. "I was nervous setting up a fundraiser because you don't know the response to it and whether people will be as generous as you hope, but we have been blown away. It has been really amazing.

"People are reaching out and offering loads of support, and people say it is great that we are raising awareness of the disease, which a lot of people don't know anything about."

After setting off on his journey on May 14, Nathaniel's first stop will be in Barnsley, before moving onto Matlock, Burton on Trent, Birmingham, Evesham and Cirencester, before finally arriving at India's house in Bath, Somerset.

"It is very incredible he is doing this," India added. "He told me he did a 13 mile walk at the weekend, and that is just so far to me - but he is going to be doing double that every day. It makes me realise how intense it is going to be.

"He is very physically driven and I don't doubt he will be able to do it, but I also don't doubt there will be points where it is really difficult. But I think that's why he wanted to do it, to physically push himself and to some extent feel the same pain I feel every day, which I think is really sweet."

Click here to find out more and donate to Nathaniel's fundraising page.