Focus Hotels is backing one of its managers as he prepares for a challenging trek to raise thousands of pounds for a mental health charity.
Kemal Cheitah will step away from his role as General Manager of the Mercure Shrewsbury Albrighton Hall Hotel & Spa – managed by Focus – in June for a few weeks of intensive training before setting out in July to take on the 2,500KM Sultans Trail from Vienna to Istanbul.
Kemal, who came out of retirement to take up his position at the Albrighton last August, hopes to raise £7,000 for the Mental Health Foundation.
The trail takes an average of between 20 and 25 weeks to walk but Kemal is planning to do it in only 62 days – just under nine weeks.
Kemal is currently spending two hours a day walking around 10KM on the treadmill in the leisure club at the Albrighton as part of his preparations.
He said: “Focus Hotels have been very supportive, allowing me to display promotional leaflets in the bedrooms here.
“I hope our guests and leisure club members will contribute to this very worthwhile cause, as my family, friends and neighbours will rally around me again, as they always do, for which I am very grateful.
“I believe we should all be able to live life to the full. Covid-19 brought a lot of mental health issues out into the open, and the Mental Health Foundation works towards good mental health for all.”
Stephen Cresswell, Operations Director for Focus Hotels, said: “Kemal is quite remarkable. Many people who reach the age of 67 will be thinking about putting their feet up and resting after a long career.
“But not only did he return to work, bringing his many years of valuable experience to the Albrighton, he started undertaking fund-raising walks, and shows no sign of slowing down.
“We wish him all the very best for his biggest challenge yet.”
Kemal explained how his fund-raising adventures began: “After I retired, I started walking for my own health in 2020 during the first lockdown, just around my own village, and gradually built up my strength and stamina to walk up to 50KM a day around my home county of Northamptonshire.
“One of my neighbours suggested I could walk the Camino de Santiago, and I thought that was a good idea but thought I could also use my walks to help other people, so each year I select a charity which has a special meaning for me, to support.”
A 30-day walk from Saint Jean Pied De Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain saw him raise £3,000 for Asthma UK and a Parkinson’s Disease charity, and in 2022 he walked 2,024KM from Canterbury Cathedral to the Vatican in Rome; the 80-day trek saw him raise £5,500 for a prostate cancer charity, in honour of his father.
He said: “This Sultans Trail will be the longest walk I have ever undertaken. I will be walking almost 60 marathons, back-to-back, for 62 days but I am looking forward to the challenge, especially seeing the different cultures of the countries I will be walking through, such as Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and, finally, Turkey.
“I have chosen the Mental Health Foundation because one of my team from several years ago took his own life.
“I have always kept in regular contact with my team members and I was very taken aback when his sister contacted me to tell me what had happened. He had never shown any signs of ill health or mental illness, so it was a complete shock.”
Anyone interested in supporting Kemal can do so by visiting www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kemal2023.
ENDS April 2023
Issued on behalf of Focus Hotels by Empica. For further information contact Darren Bane or Martin Powell
on (01275) 394400 or email email@example.com