John Cowell, Burnley author of the much loved “The Broken Biscuit”, has just released a book, entitled “My Camino Amigo”, about his pilgrimage to the Cathedral city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
The journey, known as the Camino de Santiago or the Way of St James, is one of the most challenging – and rewarding – pilgrimage routes in Europe. Typically, the journey begins in France, most commonly in the village of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French-Spanish border, all the way to Santiago de Compostela in north-western Spain.
John, a 76-year-old former joiner and staff nurse and the author of four other books, has completed the Camino eight times with “his constant companion” Fred Uttley, a 70-year-old great grandfather and former plumber from Padiham.
Their first attempt was ten years ago. After meeting a hiker in a bar in Madrid who told them about his experience of the Camino, they decided that they had to give it a try. It was challenging at first as they were totally unprepared. “The first time, we didn’t have the proper gear or anything” said John. But they kept coming back, both for the experience and to raise money for charity, especially for CAFOD.
As seasoned Camino pilgrims they were asked by CAFOD to act as guides for some of their volunteers who wished to complete the journey. The book begins with John and Fred heading to CAFOD’s head office in London to brief a group of first-time pilgrims on what to expect from the experience.
When asked what inspired him to write the book, which he started about a year ago, John said:
“It’s for those who want to do what we did. To walk in mine and Fred’s footsteps and raise money for charity, that would be great. Usually the difficulty with writing is finding the words. This time the words just flowed. Still, it’s an experience you can’t really put into words. It’s so hard to capture what it’s like – the feeling when you’re on the Camino, the spiritual feeling and friendliness from all over the world – it’s absolutely marvellous.”
Fred and John had been on many other challenges together, including a 1000 mile cycle (Le Tour de Fred) around England in June 2013 that helped raise over £12,000 in support of CAFOD’s work with poor farmers in Bangladesh. Speaking about John’s book, Fred said:
“It’s a story worth sharing. The book is about myself and John Cowell walking the Camino and at the same time raising awareness of the Camino and all that it brings: love, friendship, spirituality and so many things that make you a better person. Once you have walked the Camino, you talk to people about it and they say they know it well and would like to do it. This book is for all the people who want to do the walk.”
To hear Fred & John talk about their experiences on the Camino just follow the link to BBC Radio Lancashire on the iPlayer Radio (you need to fast forward it to 1:25:00):
To order your copy for just £7 plus P&P please contact Fred Uttley: 01282 773032 / email@example.com or John Cowell: 01282 456482 / firstname.lastname@example.org
If you can, please download the poster to display in your parish or other local community venue advertising the sale of John’s book, just click the following link to download a PDF copy:
If you feel inspired to walk the Camino de Santiago or just part of the route, check out CAFOD’s website below for details: