Widower walks for Langley Hospice Society

Roy Clements and his wife Doreen were married 53 years before her passing in 2014 following a lengthy fight against cancer.

Clements, a retired Langley man in his 70s, is now planning to walk about 1,600 kilometres in three months in honour of Doreen and in support of the Langley Hospice Society.

The couple were originally from Liverpool, in Britain.

“We met in 1961, Christmas Day,” said Clements.

They had gone to the same schools at the same times, but had been a few years apart. Their siblings knew each other, but the two had never crossed paths until Clements’ family intervened.

“We met through my mum,” he said.

His mother was worried about her son’s “wild days” and thought Doreen would be a good influence on him.

“She was right on there,” Clements said with a laugh.

The couple married on March 30, 1963, and had three children, daughters Michelle, Jayne, and Jakaline.

The only problem was their neighbourhood in Liverpool, which Clements described as a rough one. A job offer for him to work at a mine in northern B.C. came along at the right time, and the family packed up and moved to Canada, where the family has lived for the past 39 years.

While he worked in mine maintenance and construction, Doreen also worked, doing everything from cleaning to secretarial work, from starting her own business to working as a lab tech to managing a retail store.

After years of working and raising their children, the couple then faced a series of health issues as Doreen had her first bout of cancer in the late 1990s. She survived through two separate diagnoses, but in 2012 was diagnosed with lung cancer.

As the disease progressed an it became clear in 2014 that she would not survive, the family turned to the Langley Hospice Society.

Doreen got physical care and had her pain eased while the family received emotional support.

The loss of his wife hit Clements hard.

“At one time, I was suicidal, I must admit,” he said.

“Now I know how to cope with the bad days.”

The Langley Hospice Society is “my saving grace,” said Clements, offering counselling and the Supportive Steps walking group. Clements said he has decided to dedicate himself to helping the society that helped him.

Clements is both fundraising for a major expansion of the Hospice Society’s facility and helping to build a garden for bereaved children at the society’s Langley City offices.

To do that, he’s going for a walk. A very, very long walk, starting this June 2.

“I should have it finished round about the eighth of September,” said Clements.

The walk of roughly 1,600 to 1,800 kilometres will include the Coast to Coast walk, which crosses England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, the Cleveland Way, the Southwest Coast Trail and other country walks in England.

“It is a tall order,” admits Clements, who was a marathon runner until he had to slow down at age 65.

Doreen enjoyed walking, and a hike around England had been on the couple’s bucket list, Clements said.

In 2016 he’s planning to walk the El Camino de Santiago, an 800 kilometre medieval pilgrimage route from France to Spain.

Now he’ll be doing it in her honour. He’s getting help from his family, from the Supportive Steps walkers, and from people coming out to his fundraisers or donating money through his site, http://clemoscrusade.wix.com/home.

Clements showed a plan of the Coast to Coast walk route to his middle daughter, Jayne. “She was fearful,” Clements said, but she soon decided that she was going to make sure her dad was safe. She pressed him to start using a smartphone and insisted that he’ll be in touch with the family all the time.

When Clements is back home, he’ll keep raising funds, with pub nights and other get togethers. Clements has a specific goal in mind for his fundraisers – Hospice would like to expand its facility at Langley Memorial Hospital to 15 full beds with private rooms, up from 10.

He’ll be doing it one step at a time, starting next month.

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