FROM the dunes of the Sahara to the rugged mountains of the Andes and the jungles of Costa Rica, Ron Hiley has trekked across them all.

The retired bus driver has hiked for days in searing heat, sticky humidity and torrential rain to raise money for a charity close to his heart.

For the past 15 years he has ventured to far-flung corners of the globe where he either walked or cycled to help Marie Curie.

He began his fundraising crusade for the charity, which provides care and support for people with terminal illnesses, in 2006, but had been raising cash for good causes for almost a decade beforehand.

“I used to keep fit by cycling from home to work in Bowling Back Lane. A friend suggested I take part in the Great Yorkshire Bike Ride from Wetherby to Filey which raises money for various charities,” he says. “It was a challenge and afterwards I felt like I had really achieved something.”

Spurred on, he took part in the annual 70-mile ride for nine years.

Then, in 2006, aged 59, Ron found out about a cycle ride in aid of Marie Curie, riding from the German capital Berlin to The Polish capital Warsaw.

“I was really interested so I went up to Bradford’s Marie Curie Hospice in Leeds Road and met Brenda Doyle who then worked as fundraiser. She showed me around and became a good friend,” he says.

“I had to raise £1800 to go, but ended up raising £4,500. I went on my own, it was a big adventure. There was about 130 of us on the ride. The best bikes had been taken when I got there and mine was a bit of a boneshaker, but I did it.”

The following year he took to the roads of Ireland, cycling from Malin to Mizen - a journey from Ireland’s most northerly point in County Donegal to Mizen Head in County Cork, commonly thought to be Ireland’s most southerly point.

“I hired a bike for the ride,” he says, “It was tough - it did not stop raining and there were so many hills, but we all really enjoyed it. On the last day the sun came out and I felt like getting back on my bike and cycling back up the country.”

He adds: “It was great to know I was helping the charity, and I got to see some lovely places that I’d never have visited otherwise.”

By then Ron, who drove buses across Bradford for 40 years before retiring in February, had well and truly caught the bug. He not only loved travelling, he enjoyed raising funds. “We raise funds in various ways, such as events, collections in various places, and online,” he says.

The expeditions are organised to raise funds either for the charity nationally or the local hospice. Participants are given a fundraising target. Help and support in how to raise funds is given by the charity.

Ron tackled the Sahara desert, climbing mammoth sand dunes. “I couldn’t believe how big they were - if you imagine the hills in the Yorkshire Dales, some dunes were like that. It was so hot and very hard walking on sand.”

A colleague at First Bus Bradford went on the desert trek, in Morocco, with Ron, as did a father and son from St John the Baptist Church, Coley, near Shelf. Brenda Doyle was also on the trip.

Staying closer to home, in 2009, Ron cycled coast to coast, from the Lake District to Scarborough. “That was quite challenging as quite a bit was off-road.”

Raising money for the hospice is especially important to him as his sister Kathleen died last year in the Bradford Marie Curie centre and his grandmother Emily was cared for in the former Marie Curie hospice at Ardenlea in Ilkley, which was sold to help pay for the Bradford hospice. He has also lost friends to the disease.

In 2010 Ron found himself back in the dry, hot desert, walking across the Jordan desert to Petra. “I enjoyed it, Petra is one of the seven new Wonders of the World.”

He was accompanied by his daughter Dawn, whose sister Jane has also joined him on fundraising challenges.

Twelve months later, Ron cycled 345 miles from Pushkar to the Taj Mahal in India. “You had to take care as there are few rules of the road and traffic can shoot out unexpectedly. We all look after each other.

“We were camping and it was harsh as I got Delhi belly. One night I was crouching over a hole in the earth which was the toilet, with wild dogs roaming around, I remember thinking ‘I’m 64, what am I doing?’”

Both Dawn and Jane flew to the USA with Ron to trek down the sides of the Grand Canyon. “It was a tough climb down, but lovely at the bottom. The Colorado river was an amazing green colour.”

There was no Delhi belly, but Ron managed somehow to get covered in cactus spines. “A nice American man pulled them out,” he laughs.

Next it was to South America and the Inca trail, with Jane and his sister-in-law Pauline. “I have involved a few family members,” he says. “My wife, Valerie, doesn’t go, but she is very supportive and helps a lot with collecting.”

The Peruvian trek was “the hardest one”, says Ron. “We walked up to about 15,000 feet - the terrain tires you out, there are loads of big steps, but the views were fantastic.”

The group had to get up at 3am to make the final walk to the remains of the Inca citadel Machu Picchu.

Sri Lanka followed, with more steps - around 5,500 - which Ron, Jane and Pauline climbed to the summit of Sri Pada mountain, also known as Adam’s Peak, the most sacred mountain in the country.

“We set off at midnight in the rain and walked in the dark with head torches. It was nine miles up. At the top it was cloudy and cold, so we didn’t see much,” he says.

Ron’s former employers, First, are among those who have helped with donations. The Marie Curie Daffodil Appeal was launched using a bus named after him.

Ron has also hiked through a Costa Rican jungle where he saw sloths and tarantulas. “That was probably the wildest place I have been.”

Now he and Jane are preparing for a trek in January in the foothills of the Himalayas in aid of Bradford, Liverpool and Newcastle hospices. “We are climbing Snowden, Scafell and Ben Nevis as part of our training. It may be the last one we do together - I will probably be too old after that,” he laughs.

To help Ron with his fundraising visit:

For more information on Marie Curie’s expeditions visit To support Bradford Hospice visit