Alan will swap Hadrian’s Wall for the Great Wall of China in charity challenge

Smile For Life's Iain Jamieson and Paula Gascoigne with Alan Gledson (right). Picture by RusbyMedia
Smile For Life's Iain Jamieson and Paula Gascoigne with Alan Gledson (right). Picture by RusbyMedia

A man who spent more than a decade working on Hadrian’s Wall is set to swap the North East for the Far East.

Alan Gledson has clocked up thousands of miles walking the wall to maintain its gates, still, drains, footpaths and surroundings.

But now the 59-year-old, from Wark, is set to swap one of Britain’s most famous landmarks for one of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World when he treks along the Great Wall of China as part of a New Year challenge.

Alan, who will complete the trek to raise money for Smile For Life Children’s Charity, said: “This is something I have wanted to do for a long time, and now I am getting to that age where I want to start ticking things off my bucket list.

“When I heard about this opportunity I had to say yes, I have always liked doing outside stuff.

“My job was very physical and very varied, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I never imagined I’d be going from that wall to the Great Wall of China.”

Smile For Life supports disabled and disadvantaged young people in the North East by providing specialist equipment, amazing experiences, work placements in Café Beam and more.

Alan, a father-of-two, added: “I am a good friend and supporter of Smile For Life and I know what fantastic work it does. It is one of the main reasons I signed up — I want to help. You can see with this charity where the money you raise will go.

“I have already done a few bag-packs in supermarkets to raise money, I plan to do little events throughout the year.”

The six-day trek will see a team of fund-raisers conquer about 60km of the most remote, wild areas of the wall, following it up and down mountains and camping in its watchtowers.

Paula Gascoigne, chief executive of the charity, said: “We are so grateful to Alan for taking on our Great Wall of China challenge.

“It seems so fitting after he has spent a large part of his working life working on one of Britain’s most famous walls.

“We always strive to do something out of the ordinary with our fund-raisers and this trek is no exception.

“We are reaching the most remote, untouched parts of the Great Wall of China, not the main tourist parts. It will be a fantastic challenge.

“The charity is about creating wonderful opportunities, not just for our beneficiaries, but also its fund-raisers, and we are so excited to be able to offer this to people.

“These challenges are accessible to all and there is still availability for the China trek if you want a fantastic New Year goal.”

The Great Wall of China trek will see fund-raisers set off on October 27 to fly from Manchester to Beijing, walking for six consecutive days and returning on November 5.

If you are interested in taking part in the trek, or helping out the charity in any other way, head to or search SmileForLifeNE or follow them on Twitter at @SmileForLifeNE.