Mother and daughter to trek Great Wall in memory of beloved firefighter
PUBLISHED: 11:07 06 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:07 06 November 2019
A mother and daughter will take on a wonder of the modern world in honour of a firefighter whose life was cut short by illness.
Gemma and Tracy Grand, from Fakenham, are set to trek the Great Wall of China in memory of their father and husband, Ian Grand, who died at the age of 54 in March following a brief battle with bowel cancer.
Mr Grand had become a retained firefighter in 2007 and was one of the first to arrive when Fakenham's biggest fire in living memory broke out in May 2014.
The blaze devastated one of the town's most historic and recognisable buildings, in Upper Market Place, but firefighters were widely praised for preventing further damage and ensuring no lives were lost.
Mr Grand retired from fire service duties in 2018 and, around the time of his diagnosis - just two months before his death - he was planning an extended break to go travelling with his wife.
The opportunity never came around for the former Fakenham Academy employee, but now his family are determined to see the world on his behalf.
"My dad always wanted to travel and the Great Wall is definitely something he would've wanted to see," said Gemma.
"We thought we needed to do something really adventurous and physically challenging. At the moment the most physical we get is walking the dog!
"With the Great Wall it's about being able to trek for as much as eight hours every day, so we're preparing with a few weekends of trekking around the UK."
From March 30 next year Gemma and Tracy will trek more than 50km of the Great Wall over nine days, climbing thousands of stairs as they raise money for Bowel Cancer UK.
In the meantime their fundraising efforts have begun and, on November 23, they will host a quiz and disco night to celebrate what would have been Mr Grand's 55th birthday.
"Dad was the most amazing man but he was very modest," added Miss Grand. "He would never have expected anyone to do anything in his name.
"I know he'd definitely be very proud, especially of mum for going out there and doing something like this so soon.
"It's going to be really life-affirming having this experience with my mum in honour of my dad, and seeing a part of the world I may never visit again."