CHURCHMAN Richard Steel is back home in Huddersfield – having conquered part of the Great Wall of China.
And he saw at first hand how the country responded to two major events – the tragedy of the Suchuan earthquake and the build-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He and his fellow walkers arrived just a day before the terrible earthquake, which claimed the lives of about 60,000 people.
“It was a fascinating and eye-opening trip,” said Mr Steel, Rector of Kirkheaton.
“Not only was I able to see the country and learn about its history, I could see the rapid response to the earthquake and was able to talk to people about it.
“We were a long way from the area affected but saw local TV and newspaper coverage and spoke to people involved.
“We passed the blood donation coaches and collection points later in the streets of Beijing as the whole country seemed to be affected.
“I was walking for the Church Mission Society and they do a lot of work in China. It is likely the group will be asked to help out as the country rebuilds after the tragic quake”.
Mr Steel completed a 50-mile stretch of the famous landmark in five days and then returned to Beijing, where he was amazed at the city’s preparations for the Olympics.
“I saw just how much work is being done in preparation for the Olympics and how proud people are that it is coming to their country.
“In Tiananmen Square, for example, we saw hundreds of students literally on their hands and knees scrubbing every single paving stone and cleaning out the cracks. And there were huge numbers of people planting out thousands of roses and petunias ready for the Games.
“Everywhere we went there seemed to be mentions of the Olympics”
Mr Steel raised nearly £2,500 for the CMS.
“It was quite tough going in places,” he said. “Much of the Wall has not been reconstructed. While we were walking we were literally camping in farmers’ fields, each night being able to look up and see the Wall.
“It was a great trip and I’d like to thank all those who sponsored me.”
The Great Wall is actually several walls – built between 200BC and 1644
The world’s largest military structure was built by Chinese rulers to provide safety from invaders
The Wall is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World
It stretches for 4,163 miles from east to west
It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987