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Heart bypass man walks entire Wall.

Byline: By Liz Hands

Grandfather John Renton wasn't going to let his six heart attacks and a triple bypass get in the way of his plan to help the North hospital staff who nursed him back to health.

The 68-year-old, from Wark, near Hexham, has just walked the length of Hadrian's Wall and raised hundreds of pounds for the heart unit at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital and for Hexham General Hospital.

Yesterday he was deservedly putting his feet up at home.

Mr Renton had his first heart attack around eight years ago.

He said: "It was a huge shock to me, as I'd always been fit and healthy and there had never been a history of heart problems in my family. But they kept on coming. At the time, I thought I was finished.

"Eventually, doctors at Hexham told me I couldn't continue like that and would have to go into the Freeman for the bypass."

That was five years ago and Mr Renton says he now feels "fantastic".

He added: "To have come from that to walking the entire length of the Wall is just brilliant. I'm just sitting back and thinking about it now and I'm over the moon."

A grandfather-of-three and father-of-two, John decided he would do the walk when the new footpath opened earlier this year, allowing people to walk its full stretch for the first time.

Originally from Bowsden, near Berwick, he was a policeman at Seahouses, Alnwick and Bellingham before giving up the force and becoming a bus driver.

He is now semi-retired, working for a coach firm in Chollerford, where he does the school run.

He said: "I think my wife, Shirley, nearly had a heart attack herself when I told her what I was planning." Mr Renton set off last Monday from Bowness on Solway and arrived at Wallsend on Sunday afternoon.

He was backed up by his friend, Frank Mattinson, who followed him in his caravette, making meals, providing somewhere to sleep and making sure someone was there just in case John got into difficulties.

He added: "The family told me to take it easy and I was intending to do around five miles a day, but on the first day I did 15 and that's about what I ended up doing each day.

"There was never any doubt in my mind I was going to finish. The doctors and nurses at Hexham and Newcastle were just fantastic and I was determined to do it for them."

Mr Renton is not sure how much he has raised yet, as his sponsorship forms are still dotted about Tynedale - and there are some at Hexham's auction mart and most of the shops and pubs around Wark, Bellingham and Otterburn for those who want to support him.
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 1, 2003
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