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Success for Fr. Damien

Templar Novice Fr. Damien Thompson completes challenge for children's hospice.


Damien Thompson (centre) with support monks Russel Erwood (left) and Robert Birnie (right) at the finish line.


Fr. Damien Thompson is a Novice of the Order of the Knights Templar of England and Wales. To be in the running of taking the next step and being knighted at the Annual General Assembly on Friday 13th October 2023 he, like all novices, had to complete a task.

Each novice chooses what that task consists of, however it must fall within at least one of the Order's goals of promoting chivalry, charity, or Christianity.

Damien chose to raise money for children's hospice Ty Gobaith (Hope House) by doing a sponsored walk... Whilst dressed in knight's armour.

Not only was Damien going to go for a walk in armour he was going to walk 23 laps of the medieval town of Conwy.

Why 23 laps?

Damien, 54, said: "It's 2023 and my birthday is on the 23rd September, so doing 23 laps just seemed to make sense. What I didn't realise was just how far 23 laps of Conwy actually is."

Initially Damien and his support monks had worked out that 23 laps equalled 18.5 miles.

Support Monk Robert Birnie, 54, said: "I do a lot of hiking and 18.5 miles is a long way, what we didn't realise until we'd started walking is that we'd worked the wrong distance.

"When we were planning the walk we'd only taken the length of the walls in to account and completely ignored the fact we were doing laps, which also included the quayside and other parts of Conwy that aren't the walls.

"This meant that each lap of Damien's challenge was just over 1-mile long, taking the total distance from 18.5 miles to 25 miles."


Damien getting strapped in to his armour at 7:30am.

And he's off.

The weather went from bad to worse almost immediately.

The moment Damien was told the total distance was 25 miles and not 18.5 miles.

A brief moment of respite from the weather. Here, the highest point of the walls looking over Conwy Town with the castle in the background.

An amazing achievement.


None of this would've been too bad if the trio were walking in pleasant weather, but they weren't. Instead they had torrential rain and heavy winds, which made the stone walls treacherous and at times visibility close to zero.

Support Monk Russel Erwood, 42, said: "All three of us usually wear glasses. Damien couldn't wear his due to the helmet, but we weren't worried as Rob and I were there and still able to see.

"That was until the rain started. It became so heavy that the specs had to come off almost straight away. If that wasn't bad enough, then the wind started. After the first lap I had my doubts about the walk being able to continue. The stone walls were incredibly slippy, none of us could see, and there are parts where you could easily take a tumble to the town below.

"The weather was so severe we gave Damien the option of calling it off, nobody would've held that against him. But he'd set his mind on doing it so he plowed on. Then, when we recalculated the actual distance we gave Damien the opportunity to reduce the number of laps. 18.5 miles would've been just 17 laps and the same distance we'd originally planned for. But he refused. We also suggested doing 23 miles, but he refused that also. He was determined to complete all 23 laps and that's exactly what he did."

Fr. Damien Thompson's goal was to raise £350. At the time of leaving for the walk his Just Giving page had reached an astounding £435.

During the walk that figure grew by £20 to £455.

Despite the weather Fr. Damien took a collection bucket with him in the hopes of bagging a few more pounds for Ty Gobaith. And the people of Conwy did not disappoint.

The total amount raised is currently £700.96! Damien's Just Giving page will remain open for a few weeks yet, so if you're able to throw some coins in the virtual collection bucket to increase this total even further please do. Every penny will help make the short lives of terminally sick children just that little bit more pleasant.

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