Walking from Wales to Paradise in memory of a special Celt Walking from Wales to

JONATHAN Thomas, or JT as many of us knew him, would have been smiling down proudly on Saturday as his inspirational wife Sian and a host of family and friends completed their walk in his memory from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales to Paradise.

It was the first anniversary of JT’s passing and there was a proud and fitting rapturous welcome as the group walked up the Celtic Way towards the Brother Walfrid statue.

In a very poignant moment, the walkers and their supporters released 30 green and purple balloons – representing each year of Jonathan’s life – into the bright sky above Celtic Park.

A Walk for Jonathan. 355 miles in just two weeks. A marathon a day. In memory of a man who did so much for others in his 30 years.

The aim was to assist the work of two charities very close to Jonathan’s heart – Celtic FC Foundation and Crohn’s & Colitis UK – and, with fundraising still ongoing, an astounding total in excess of £15,000 has already been raised.

JT was a proud Welshman with a passion for the Hoops. On October 22 last year, at the age of just 30, he tragically lost a brave fight with cancer. Having suffered from Ulcerative Colitis from the age of 18, a tumour on his bile duct passed on to his liver.

In a beautiful, touching moment, he married Sian, the love of his life, the day before he passed away.

After moving to Newcastle in 2006, he joined the Tyneside No.1 Celtic Supporters’ Club and, among those walking, was Iain McGovern, a close friend of Jonathan and a member of Celtic FC Foundation’s Supporters’ Committee.

(Sian Thomas and Iain McGovern pictured below on The Celtic Way)

The Walk for Jonathan kicked off in JT’s home town of Merthyr Tydfil on a sunny Saturday, October 8. Sian and Iain were joined by a host of family, friends, fellow Tyneside No1 CSC members, current and former work colleagues, boys who had played football alongside JT for Tyneside Irish FC and a support team, without whom the Walk would have been impossible.

Team JT walked through Wales and England before crossing the border into Scotland, where a wonderful stranger who had followed the Walk on social media welcomed them with local snacks and refreshments. That stranger was a Celtic supporter called Rodney who drove from Dumfries to Gretna to greet them.

There were so many selfless and touching acts of generosity along the way – from complimentary or discounted accommodation and meals to impromptu collections in local pubs – that warmed the hearts of the walkers and eased their weary legs and permanent blisters.

On the penultimate evening in Hamilton, Team JT were boosted once again by the arrival of Celtic’s Kris Commons and his partner Lisa Hague, together with Scottish actor Gianni Capaldi and his wife Amanda.

The final leg of the Walk for Jonathan – from Hamilton to Celtic Park – was filled with a mixture of pride, sadness, joy and love. Those final few steps had the largest and toughest impact on the courageous Sian O’Mahony Thomas, a year on from her wedding one day and losing her soulmate the next.

Sian said: “I am so overwhelmed with the support that everyone has given us along every step of the Walk. It started out as a crazy idea between Iain and myself and I can’t believe that we’ve now completed 360 miles up the country to Celtic Park, where we had the most amazing reception.

“These two weeks were about trying to remember Jonathan in a fitting way and to raise money for the charities close to his heart and I know he would be so proud.

“However, it has become so much more. The great friends we have been joined by and the generous strangers we have met have just shown how many lovely people there are in the world and it’s been so touching. If I could do it all over again I would!”

Iain added: “I guess the biggest compliment I can pay everyone involved over the past fortnight is that Jonathan would have loved this. It’s been tough but we’ve laughed so much and we’ve eaten remarkably well to keep our strength up.

“The support and good wishes we’ve had along the way have been touching and wonderful and the generosity of people with their donations has been staggering.

“As a team we’re delighted to have honoured Jonathan’s memory in what we hope is an appropriate way. He’ll be looking down with pride on Sian who is a remarkable woman. We have all been in awe of her and having her lead us all the way to Paradise and to receive the welcome we did was unforgettable.”

Sian, Iain and the rest of Team JT completed a stunning tribute to an extraordinary young man. God bless JT, YNWA.

Although the Walk For Jonathan has come to an end, there’s still time to lend your support to Team Jonathan HERE