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Belfast walker makes it home in time for lunch after 250-mile journey

White Rise, The Big Walk, Michael Conlon finishes his walking challenge, coming home to the Big Lunch for friends, family and neighbours. pictured: Michael celebrates with his husband Gerard O'Donnell White Rise, The Big Walk, Michael Conlon finishes his walking challenge, coming home to the Big Lunch for friends, family and neighbours. pictured: Michael celebrates with his husband Gerard O'Donnell
By Ciara Quinn

WEST Belfast man Michael Conlon enjoyed a well-earned seat in the sun after his epic 18-day adventure as part of the The Big Walk which came to an end on Sunday.
Representing the north, the 43-year-old left Morecambe on May 16, walking up to 15 miles a day, visiting over 80 community projects and inspirational individuals working to improve local neighbourhoods.
“I took part in The Big Walk partly because I recently moved back from Dublin to Belfast and wanted to reconnect with Northern Ireland,” said Michael. “What I discovered was that people in communities are really making things happen for themselves and the middle ground is a lot more active and significant than you might imagine. There is a sense of hopefulness in action across Northern Ireland and a sense of contentment that despite the obvious problems in our society, people power is working and real change is happening.”
Michael was greeted by family, friends and neighbours who had pulled out all stops to welcome him home with a street party in White Rise.
Peter Stewart of the Eden Project, organisers of The Big Walk, added: “It’s been an incredible journey for Michael and all our walkers. With over 100 projects visited this year, we are still only just scratching the surface of what goes on across the country. In every town and city across the UK there are people making a difference to others and we can’t wait to set off again next year and visit even more!”

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