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‘Tin Man’ 65-year-old makes 500-mile hike in memory of his great friend and mentor

The life of Andy Sawer, a much loved genius whose Cheshire-based business spread across the Atlantic, is being honoured by one of his protégés.

Bryn Thompson, a 65-year-old sports lover with artificial kneesis over half way through a 500-mile charity hike along a partly mountainous pilgrimage route in northern Spain.

Globe-trotting Bryn, an entrepreneur and author, has completed around three fifths of The Camino Frances, immortalised by a 2010 film The Way, directed by Emilio Estevez and starring Martin Sheen and James Nesbitt.

Walking on metal knees following the wear and tear of having played cricket and rugby union at a high amateur level for over 40 years, Bryn, whose own business has taken him to over 30 countries, is making three trips to do the hike.

He has completed two of them and will start the final 200 miles of the walk on October 13 in aid of Brain Tumour Research.

Brain tumours affect 55,000 people in the UK each year and kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.

In January 2021, Bryn lost his former mentor, boss and friend, Andy, who died from brain cancer at the age of 59.

Bryn, who lives in Prestbury, said:

“Andy was a force of nature, a larger than life character and was much loved by everybody who knew him.

“We lost Andy far too soon but his memory lives on. We all miss him greatly.”

In 1995, with his then business partner Jonathan Fitchew, Andy founded Pareto, an assessment, placement and training company in Wilmslow.

It grew into a £30m business, with offices in London and New York and is now owned by Randstad, the world’s largest recruitment and training business.

“Andy loved sport,” said Bryn. “He had a great sense of humour and helped thousands of graduates to find their first jobs in sales. Many have gone on to enjoy stellar careers.”

Together with his co-author and business partner, Steve Lowndes, Bryn, a former UK Sales Leader of the Year, has this year had a book published called Transformational Selling, which is receiving five-star reviews on Amazon.

The book describes the methods – and in many cases the humour – which has gone into making Bryn and Steve’s business, New World Selling, such a success story.

Between them, they have assessed and trained over 20,000 members of sales and sales management teams across every continent.

Bryn expects to complete his marathon hike in a total of 35 days over the three stages in Spain.

He added:

“I am calling myself the ‘Tin Man’ after the character in the film The Wizard of Oz. Andy would have laughed at that.

“I set an initial target of £1,000 through Just Giving. Taking into account Gift Aid, Brain Tumour Research had benefited by over £1,600 not long after I finished the second leg.

“So I thought let’s give it another go. If you are reading this – and you have not given yet – please take a few minutes to donate as much or as little as you can.”

Born and raised near Bakewell in Derbyshire, Bryn is not letting his knee replacements get in the way of the sport he still plays.

He’s a talented batsman with Cheshire Cricket League club Prestbury and the Cheshire Seniors team, who play every Tuesday in summer all over the country. He is also a golf member of The Tytherington Club.

In the world of rugby, Bryn was a ball playing No 8, good enough in his day to have captained Glossop, a club situated on the edge of the Peak District, and Derbyshire. He also played for the Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire Combined XV.

He carried on playing rugby until his early 50s, finishing with the Wilmslow Veterans’ team at a time when they toured France, Italy and Chile.

To donate to Brain Tumour Research, search for JustGiving and then Bryn’s fundraiser for University of Plymouth


*JustGiving sends your donation straight to University of Plymouth and automatically reclaims Gift Aid if you are a UK taxpayer, so your donation is worth even more.

After Bryn’s second leg, £1,379.65 had been donated with Gift Aid increasing the total by £276.25.

You meet fascinating people on these Spanish steps:

These are five of the many friends from around the world Bryn Thompson has made on the first two legs of his marathon march along The Camino Frances.

All five, like Bryn, have been stepping out for charity . . .

*A former estate agent from Melbourne, who owns a 20,000 acre farm, a 70-plus hiker, and like Bryn a cricket lover.

The farmer is a member of MCG, the world’s largest ground with a capacity of 100,000. Has invited Bryn to stay for a Boxing Day Test. Thus becoming Bryn’s Joint New Best Friend.

*A 79-year-old man with two hip replacements doing the full 500 miles. From Washington State and owns a chain of pizza restaurants and bars.

Thus becoming Bryn’s other JNBF!

*A 62-year-old woman who hiked over 1,000 miles from Holland and who will have done over 1,500 miles by the time she has finished. A retired and hugely respected nurse in the Dutch prison service.

*A Danish medic doing The Camino Frances to cure PTSD after witnessing the horrors and traumas of Afghanistan. He said it was like watching a horror film all day every day.

His therapy? Keep on walking and play the experiences back time and again to dilute things day by day.

*A woman from Lapland in her 70's on her ninth Camino, a distance of nearly 10,000 miles.

Pictured - Bryn Thompson (white T-shirt) with fellow hikers in León, where he finished the second leg of his Spanish walkathon. It is also where he will start his final stage to Santiago de Compostela.

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