TWO hip replacements are not stopping a Netherton woman from completing the challenge of a lifetime.
Susan Kirby will celebrate her 60th birthday by walking 190 miles from Coast to Coast in aid of three charities close to her heart.
Mrs Kirby was born with a hip problem which was a blight on her early life.
It was only after her two hip operations – the first more than seven years ago – that she was able to consider the coastal challenge.
Now the newly-retired health visitor will walk across England following a route made famous by Alfred Wainwright.
She will spend more than 20 days on her feet trampling the hills, valleys and roads from the Irish Sea at St Bees in Cumbria to the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire.
She will be supported by husband William and loyal dog Chad in the journey which would have been impossible a decade ago.
And she will be supporting charities – the Camphill Trust in memory of her late father Norman Davies, as well as the West Yorkshire Forget Me Not Trust and Kirkwood Hospice.
Susan said: “It all started seven years ago when my father died.
“His favourite charity was the Camphill Trust which provides residential accommodation to people with learning disabilities.
“At his funeral we had a collection for the charity and I said to my mum that I would do the Coast to Coast walk.
“Well, I’d just had a hip operation and was still on crutches and needed the other hip doing so it was not possible then.
“And work and family life got very busy.
“But when I retired last August I decided it was the first big thing I wanted to do.”
The health visitor was born with a hip complication and needed surgery when she was younger.
But she had to wait until she was an adult for both hip replacements.
“Nothing has ever stopped me from doing what I waned to do,” she added.
“I hope that I can inspire other people to have their hips replaced because while there is the fear of an operation, if you do all the exercises then it can make the world of difference.”
Susan is a member of the Huddersfield Choral Society and is hoping to prove that 60 is the new 40 – although she could never have attempted the walk twenty years ago.
“It’s bizarre because I feel so much younger now than I did then.
“When I was 40, walking was very painful due to my hip condition.
“It’s only now that I have two artificial hips, which are working brilliantly, that I could even consider such a trek.
“My new hips have given me a new life.
“Sadly, my dad died before I had the second hip, so he never saw the transformation.”
But she will have family supporting her along the way as she stays in B&Bs, pubs and camping barns.
Her son Andrew Smith, 32, a Newsome scout leader will take part in a few days of the trip along with his two-year-old daughter.
At home will be her two other sons and her mother Jean, 82, willing her on.
She will visit the Camphill Trust on her journey and see the work which offers opportunities for people with learning disabilities, mental health problems and other special needs to live, learn and work with others of all abilities in an atmosphere of care and respect.
She will also raise money for the West Yorkshire Forget Me Not Trust children’s hospice appeal and Kirkwood Hospice, saying they do wonderful work for people who really need it.
To support Susan’s effort and help support the three charities visit her Just Giving web pages and search for Susan Kirby.