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For many people, the decision to walk the ancient Christian pilgrimage route The Way of St James is inspired by religion.

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For many people, the decision to walk the ancient Christian pilgrimage route The Way of St James is inspired by religion.

But for Islington tattooist Nick Reid, it was about finding a way to honour the memory of his friend’s late father and raise money for the disease which claimed his life.

Nick, 46, the founder of Skunx Tattoo in Chapel Market, last weekend began the 864km hike from southern France to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in western Spain – which is thought to contain the remains of Saint James.

The journey, which is expected to take 32 days to complete, will raise funds for a specialist cancer unit in Plymouth which trials treatments for mantle cell lymphoma.

Fellow Skunx tattooist Steve Richardson lost his 57-year-old father John in February after a three month battle with the condition, which is a particularly aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Nick, who also lives in Chapel Market, said: “People have been walking the same route for over 1,000 years.

“I am not a religious person in any way but there seems something spiritual about this and I’m looking forward to experiencing everything the walk has to offer.”

But he admits the challenge is going to be tough, and aimsto cover 30 kilometres a day.

He said: “The pain is all part of it. It is a challenge of mind and body and as such when I finish the walk I’m sure I will be a better person for it.”

The idea of raising awareness and funds through walking the 1,000 year old route – known in Spanish as El Camino De Santiago – came to him while watching Hollywood film The Way, in which the characters take the same pilgrimage.

Nick thought it would be a fitting tribute to John as he was a “huge” Newcastle United fan and the football club’s grounds are at St James Park.

He will be joined by customer and recently qualified paramedic Matt Taylor, 32.

The pair have already raised around £7,300, with £3,500 coming from an auction held on August 1 in which they sold work donated by some of the best tattoo artists in the world, including Dan Gold.

The challenge has also caught the attention of Britain’s Got Talent finalist Tobias Mead and punk band Rancid, who both offered donations.

Steve described his father as a “hero” to his friends and family and said: “Obviously many, many forms of cancer affect families every day but these rarer forms receive very little attention and fewer funds towards research and treatments.

“If we can contribute in some way to there being a successful form of treatment that will prolong the life of someone else one day, then it may help to ease the pain of our sudden loss.

“We would like to thank Nick for adopting our cause in his journey.”

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