A SALTCOATS grandad has returned from a remarkable 10-day, 200-mile fundraising walk.

Jeremy, or Jerry, Helley completed the remarkable trek from his hometown, around Galloway Forest and back in a bid to raise much needed funds for a three-year-old girl battling cancer - Ava Bolton.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Jerry completed the walk to raise funds for Ava Bolton.Jerry completed the walk to raise funds for Ava Bolton. (Image: Scott and Natalie Bolton)

Scott and Natalie Bolton's worlds were turned upside down at the start of the year when their three-year-old daughter Ava was diagnosed with stage-4 high risk neuroblastoma.

According to the Kids Cancer Project, neuroblastoma is the leading cause of cancer death in children under the age of five.

Young Ava, who lives with her family in Mauchline, is currently four months into an 18-month treatment plan to tackle the disease.

Ava's mum and dad are now planning ahead for when the treatment finishes, as there remains a risk that she could relapse and the cancer could return.

Natalie and Scott, and Ava's brother Lucas, are now aiming to raise £250,000 to send the youngster to a new vaccination treatment in New York, once her current 18-month treatment cycle is complete.

This led to them setting up a GoFundMe page in an bid to raise the required funds to get Ava to the USA.

And when Saltcoats man Jerry heard Ava's story, he said it was a "no-brainer" for him to try and help.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: A map of Jerry's remarkable walk.A map of Jerry's remarkable walk. (Image: Submitted)

He told the Herald: “When I heard the story about Ava, and being a father and a grandfather, I can’t imagine a parent having to go through that.

“It was a no-brainer for me after I heard the story.

“I’d thought about doing the walk myself, but it would have been nice to have a purpose, that was exactly the motivation I needed.

“I wanted to try and raise as much money as I could but also try to raise the profile for the cause.”

So on May 20, Jerry headed off from the Three Towns on his travels down to Dumfries and Galloway and back.

He was walking solo - with the exception of his companion Star, Ava's toy stuffed bunny.

Jerry was allowed to take Star - or 'the other one' as Ava calls it, as it is not her favourite bunny - to provide some inspiration on his walk.

He would send pictures from his phone at the end of each day, to show Ava how far 'the other one' had made it.

Jerry commented: “It was a good motivation, there were times towards the end of the days when the body was starting to shut down it gave you that inspiration to kick it off again.”

And it served Jerry well, with the Saltcoats man revealing he had very few moments of doubt throughout his travels.

In fact, it turned out to be a great experience for the 60-year-old.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Jerry sent images back home of him and Ava's bunny on their travels.Jerry sent images back home of him and Ava's bunny on their travels. (Image: Submitted)

He commented: “It was a fabulous experience, I’ve driven these roads lots of times but when you’re a driver you don’t quite take in the countryside.

“When you’re walking it you’re taking it all in – and what a beautiful country we live in.

“I wouldn’t advise everyone to walk on some of the roads I did mind you!

“At the end of some days I was shattered, I was on my knees, but I was ready to go again the next morning.

“People said to me when I was doing it that I was mad, but I was determined.”

And as well as Ava herself, there were plenty of others who helped motivate Jerry on his way.

He explained: “The support I got from people throughout the walk was absolutely tremendous.

“I met people from south of the border and local people in towns – they were either supportive of what I was doing and helping me through it or by donating money.”

And Jerry was able to tell tales of the amazing support he gathered - even from people who were unaware of Ava's story before he took to the roads.

He told of how a local business owner took him to a camping site so he didn’t have to camp in a field. He wasn’t charged for this and neighbouring people made him food and made sure he was looked after.

And as he reached his halfway stage, after a 28-mile mile walk to Newton Stewart he had "only night of luxury" and stayed in hotel.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Jerry leaving on May 20 when he began his walk.Jerry leaving on May 20 when he began his walk. (Image: Submitted)

He explained how the first hotel he went to was full, and the owner phoned around others and found him one on the other side of town. The manager ran him up to the Crown Hotel - who then didn’t charge him.

It was a simply remarkable journey which has left Jerry with many memories, and has helped him raise over £4,600 so far to add to Ava's fundraiser.

Anyone wishing to contribute to Jerry's efforts can do so at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jeremy-helley-1.

Jerry is no stranger to fundraising. He also raised money for a neighbour by doing 129 miles in a month to raise money for electric wheelchair so she could go out more easily with her son some two-and-a-half years ago. It is something he would do again and encourage others to get involved in.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Jerry is hoping others can get behind the cause and help s-Ava life.Jerry is hoping others can get behind the cause and help s-Ava life. (Image: Submitted)

After his return to the Three Towns on May 29, he said: “When you see someone in need that has nowhere else to go, it doesn’t matter what walks of life you are in, there are people out there that sometimes just need a hand.

“This is a family that need a hand, this wee girl's three-years-old and life expectancy is pretty minimal unless she gets the treatment.

“Could I sit back and watch that happening when there’s something you can do? 

"It’s only money - I know things are tough for people right now, but it doesn’t take a lot.”