An RAF helicopter yesterday lifted not only a stone pillar into place on a Northumberland fellside but also the spirits of those affected by cancer.
The six-metre high sandstone obelisk and base stone were lowered into place to mark the source of the North Tyne on Jimmy and Fiona Hall’s Deadwater Farm, north of Kielder village.
The stone column also pinpoints the start – or finish – of a planned national trail dedicated to those who are affected either directly or indirectly by cancer.
Last year former Northumberland hotelier Brian Burnie and friends Dave Bowmaker, Ron Stanley and William King walked 150 miles from the sources of both the South and North Tyne to the piers at Tynemouth and South Shields.
Brian founded the Daft As a Brush charity which is now run by 150 volunteers and whose 13 ambulances provide transport to and from hospital for cancer patients.
The aim next year is to launch the route as the Daft As a Brush Cancer Patient Care walk, with a guide book and waymarked route.
The source of the South Tyne is marked by a stone sculpture but what was missing was a similar feature for the North Tyne.
The stone obelisk was provided by Robert Charlton of Border Stone Quarries in Haltwhistle, and the structural design work was carried out by Cundalls in Gosforth, Newcastle.
The stone was carved with inscriptions about the river source and the walk by Gilbert Ward, of Fourstones village in Northumberland.
Funding came from Northumbrian Water and Northumberland County Council.
Mr Burnie said: “The RAF agreed to lift the stones as a training exercise and they will look quite stunning.
“At the sources of the rivers you can step over them, and when you reach the river mouth and see how wide it is. It is an emotional moment. The walk includes 84 river crossings, Europe’s largest man-made lake and forest, castles, Roman remains, spectacular viaducts, a former PoW camp and two coastal piers.
“I think people will come from all over to do this walk, including people affected in some way by cancer. It is a way of not letting cancer win.
“People can take in the sources of both the South and North Tyne, or one of them, or they can tackle sections of the walk.”