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A hiker’s library: ‘Shake Well Before Use, a walk around Britain’s coastline’ by Tom Isaacs

Possibly the most effective gauge of an accomplished author, is the ability to instil empathy and emotional involvement in the reader. Tom Isaacs had this ability in bucket loads. I was first drawn to this book as inspiration for my own planned adventures. Instead, what I gained was an improved understanding and appreciation as to how just a few individuals have an additional inner strength that enables them to adapt to the most awful of personal circumstance. Not only adapt, but also tell a story well while imparting knowledge with self-deprecation and humour. But never mind all that, this book is a good read…

Tom Isaacs set off to walk the coastline of mainland Britain in April 2002. That would be difficult enough in itself, but this young man had an additional challenge, he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1996, aged just 27.

The author does not wallow in self pity, what you get is a great account of a walk, Coastin’ was an adventure, a challenge. There are real characters to be found in this book as well as the wonderful coastline of mainland Britain, set against the author’s aim in raising money for research into this awful disease.

One of the major obstacles and challenges that faced Tom Isaacs, encountered at the same time while battling his Parkinsons, was the peole that he met on his walk. Some understood, few did. However it was more the kindness and willing to do good, that the author found of much help. Sadly, much of the book relates a very different experience
As well as the terrain and toll subjected on his body by the constant day on day demands of the trail, amongst the major obstacles and challenges that faced Tom Isaacs, encountered at the same time as battling his Parkinson’s, was the people that he met on his walk. Some understood, many did not. Kindness and willingness gave the author considerable encouragement and helped sustain his determination. Sadly, at times, much of the book relates a very different experience.

It took Tom a year to walk the 4500 miles, during that time he also climbed the highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland. He went through 10 pairs of boots and walked up to 30 miles a day, attempting an average of 15. Days after he finished his walk, he completed the London Marathon. Again, raising thousands of pounds for charity.

“I continue to be hugely optimistic about the future. We will conquer Parkinson’s!”

Tom Isaacs – late President and Co-founder of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (1968 – 2017)

Tom Isaacs founded The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT) in 2005 and died in 2017 . He left behind not only a laudable legacy that will continue to help those who suffer from one of the cruellest of diseases, but also a cracking personal story, written with humour and skill.

Book from my shelves:

Shake Well Before Use, A Walk Around Britain’s Coastline, Tom Isaacs. Cure Parkinsons Press, 2007. ISBN 978 0 9557730 0 6

Three Points of the Compass has some suggestions as to suitable inclusions to a backpacker’s library here. These are all on my own shelves and hard-earned cash was paid for each and every one.

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