A paraplegic man from St Helens has embarked on a remarkable mission as he attempts to make his way back home via public transport - from Bangladesh.

 

The 24-year-old’s ambitious journey, which is being called ‘Rolling Back Home’, will no doubt be testing physically and emotionally, but it is all for a good cause.

 

Peter Donnelly will be using buses, trains and ferries to make the 5,000-mile trip to his Merseyside home to raise funds for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) charity, where he has been volunteering for the past four months in the outskirts of Dhaka.

 

His gigantic trip aims to cross two continents and 14 countries, including China, Russia and France. His journey began at the weekend as a bus took him to the Indian state of West Bengal.

 

The launching of his trip could have run a little smoother as Mr Donnelly revealed: “I gave a short talk on why I'm doing RBH [Rolling Back Home] and what it is that I hope to achieve. It felt a bit weird. Not speaking to the press, but the fact I was holding a pigeon in my hands! I was given it to release as a mark of the start of the journey, when I did it just fell to the ground.”

 

In the build-up to his adventure, Mr Donnelly has been dealing with the media, been in talks with documentary film-makers and has picked up a sponsorship deal with mobile phone company Nokia.  Handicap International are helping him organise his journey in more difficult countries.

 

Yesterday he had made it up to Kathmandu, Nepal. Despite initial worries after being separated from his luggage, everything resolved itself and the first leg of his trip has gone smoothly.

 

After spending his first night in a hotel, he is now scouting around for couch surfers, who allow travellers to stay in their homes free of charge.  

 

Mr Donnelly has been confined to a wheelchair since the age of 19 when he broke his back in a motorcycle accident. He plans to talk to other wheelchair users along the way about their personal experiences of disability.

 

When talking to the BBC, he told them that as well as being motivated by his desire to raise money for CRP, he also wanted to do it “to raise awareness of what can be achieved when using a wheelchair and how everything in your path might not be perfect but it is still possible.

 

"Soon after the accident, I thought my life was over. I was not sure what this new life could offer me.

I had stereotypes in my head about people in wheelchairs. Somewhere along the way I changed my mind. I don't let this stop me from doing anything and I actively go out looking for new challenges like sky-diving, scuba-diving, bungee-jumping and triathlons - I've done them all."

 

You can keep up to date with Mr Donnelly’s travels by reading his two blogs: Rolling Back Home and Disabled in Dhaka.

Disabled man makes 5,000-mile charity trip

By Alex Longthorne

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Peter Donnelly of St Helens will be crossing half the world via public transport, all in the name of charity