Many of you will already know me and why I’m doing this. This page is for those who don’t.
My name is Fredrik Gustav Ahlburg Keate, I am 22 years old, a Londoner born and bred, and I’m off to study English and History at the University of Glasgow come September.
However, as you’ve probably guessed from my name, I am not totally English (who really is these days?). My mother, Sussie, came from a small town called Nynashamn just to the south of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.
Though she moved to London, Sussie always retained a strong connection with her Swedish background, especially a love of the wild woodland that covers so much of the country, and beautiful archipelago which spans the Baltic coast. We bought a small summer house in the slightly ironically named Småland (literally translating as “Small land”, which is roughly a third the size of Britain) when I was just 5 and I have spent every summer, and most Christmases, there since.
From this I developed a great love for the thick pine forests, clear rivers and beautiful lakes of the Swedish countryside. The sense of space, the natural beauty and, especially as a child, the feeling freedom are something I have never quite found anywhere else.
Sussie passed away in August of 2013, taken by something that will probably affect everyone reading this at some point in their lives, either directly or through a friend or family member, heart disease.
There are many types of heart disease. The most common, Coronary heart disease, affects an estimated 2.3 million people in the UK and remains the biggest single killer, both in the UK and worldwide.
This is where the British Heart Foundation makes an entrance. The BHF provides funding for ground-breaking research into the causes of and cures for heart disease, as well as providing lifesaving first aid training and raising awareness of heart health in general (see the British Heart Foundation page for some more info on what they do and how to get involved). I can hardly think of a more worthy cause to work for.
As I have said above, I love Sweden and feel deeply connected to the countryside there. However, I have only had an opportunity to experience a small section of such a vast and fantastic country, this is something I feel I has to be changed. By walking the full length of the country, some 1500 miles, from the most Southerly city of Malmo to the most Northerly one, Kiruna, I hope to get a sense of Sweden as a whole. To experience it from the lakes and woodlands I know so well, to the fields of the south, the thousand islands of the archipelago, to the great mountains of the North, and so doing come closer to my Swedish heritage, and take time to remember the wonderful woman who so deeply shaped who I am, and who I hope to become.