A COURAGEOUS local hairdresser, based in Limavady, is set to undertake a trip to the wilderness next month to camp out and to 'live off the land' in order to raise money for a number of charities close to his heart.
On July 12, armed with a fishing rod and only a few camping supplies, adventurous local man JJ Johnston, 49, will journey back to his roots in Garvagh where he will set up camp at the riverside just outside the village, a place he will call home for a total of four days and four nights.
According to JJ, the purpose of his outdoor mission is to fundraise and increase awareness for the charities of LIPS, Foyle Hospice and Northern Ireland Children's Hospice whilst keeping in mind his loyal clients over the years who also share a personal connection in some form to the charities.
With just over a month to prepare for his challenging excursion, JJ told the Northern Constitution: “It is based on the idea of taking on something really different and stepping out of my comfort zone.
“I will have no mobile, no watch and no food supplies – I will just be living off the land, eating berries and other plant food sources and hopefully catch a few fish.
“As for keeping hydrated, I will take the water out of the river and boil it by lighting some firewood which I plan to bring with me.”
“I will also be going days without showering or changing clothes and I am someone who takes great pride in my appearance so it will be a challenge to step away from this life and step into a totally different world.”
According to JJ, who has been a keen runner and sportsman all his life, after suffering an injury during a marathon, the 49-year-old came up with the idea of a camp out fundraiser in order to honour the charities closest to him within one unique event.
JJ continued: “I ran the London Marathon and The Great Northern Run for Foyle Hospice a few years ago but after my injury I couldn't do the miles any more.
“As I have always had a keen fishing interest, I thought it would be definitely be an interesting challenge to live solely on my fishing skills and knowledge of the land around the rivers which I learned from my father as a child – the real challenge being the fact that if I don't catch any fish then I won't eat that day!”
“I just think that people should sometimes step out of the madness of daily life and this is my way of doing it.”
For JJ, who has been running a busy salon for 14 years, he says the one element he will miss the most from his hectic lifestyle will be listening to music.
He said: “I have music on all the time and it's part of my working environment - I always have it on in the house and I listen to it before I go to bed so it will be tough without it for a few days.”
For those who wish to follow along with his journey, the camp out will be documented regularly on social media for everyone to follow along with JJ's experience.
He explained:“Someone will come out to visit me for a daily check to see how I am getting on and to record a few updates which will be posted on my Facebook page, JJ Johnston House of Hair but other than that I will have no means of communication.”
According to dedicated JJ, he is determined to complete the camp out and is looking forward to the upcoming challenge.
He continued: “Whether it's rain, hail or snow, I won't let that beat me.
“I am excited about it but I'm nervous about it too.
“It's just the fear of the unknown and being on my own everyday trying to find food but when I put my mind to something I will do it.”
JJ concluded: “My own clients have been touched by these charities and every family has been hit by devastation in some way so that's the reason why I do these fundraisers, it's for them.”
JJ will begin his camp out on Friday July 12 and will finish on Sunday July 16.
All of the named charities or anyone who wishes to come visit JJ during his camp out are most welcome and the location will be given at the time of the event.
If you wish to donate, charity boxes are on display at JJ Johnston House of Hair, located on 47 Irish Green Street or you can also donate online through the salon's Facebook page.