One man has gone to Ironman efforts 680 miles across the world to raise funds for his local hospice, Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court.
28 year old surveyor, Hugh Walton, from Cheltenham reveals what inspired him to take on the Hamburg full distance Ironman in support of his local hospice, and a host of fitness related challenges on his journey to the start line.
Sue Ryder provided unfaltering support
“My family has personally benefitted from the amazing care that Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice gives. My late uncle was cared for in the inpatient unit at the hospice and my late grandfather was looked after as an out-patient in his own home in Cheltenham.
“The loss of my uncle at such a young age was a bitter pill to swallow for my family, especially my auntie and two cousins who’ve been left without a husband and father. Sue Ryder provided unfaltering support in their time of need and their care is second to none."
I wanted to do something strong and extraordinary - just like their care
“I wanted to give back and do something to support such a great charity. The care the hospice gives is strong, unique and extraordinary so I wanted to do something that was strong, unique and extraordinary to raise funds so the hospice can continue to be there for families like mine.
“With my father having competed triathlons in recent years I did a bit of research into the sport and discovered the crazy world of Ironman: 2.4 mile open water swim, 112 mile bike and a full 26.2 mile marathon, raced in that order without a break.
“I couldn’t swim more than a length without getting tired, I did not own a bike, and I had not run further than short bursts on a rugby pitch since I was around 14 years old. When I first told people my plans their first reaction was that it would not be possible.
“After following countless hours of training, time spent teaching myself to swim via YouTube videos, running and cycling to and from work and at lunch times I started taking on local event challenges. I ticked off Landaid 10k, Cheltenham Half Marathon, Great Birmingham Run Half Marathon, Birmingham Velo 100 mile bike ride and Cheltenham Triathlon too.
“I’m proud to say on July 28th 2019, I successfully completed my first Ironman distance triathlon in 12 hours, 56 minutes and 47 seconds at the Hamburg Ironman.”
The challenges families face kept me going
“It was the hardest challenge I have ever faced but it was the much harder challenges families face on a daily basis losing loved ones that kept me going to the finish line.
“Before the race in Hamburg I was lucky enough to be called up onto the stage to talk about my reason for being there.
“I spoke about my uncle and grandfather and the work that Sue Ryder does in the UK and how they helped my family. I also told them about getting fit for the event, using the motivation of raising money to help others as a way to motivate myself to get in better shape too. Since I started the training I have lost 20kg and it has really changed my outlook on keeping healthy.”
With determination and support anything is possible
“Uncle Paul was a kind, funny and fantastic father to my two equally awesome cousins. A brilliant architect he worked on notable buildings like the Montpellier Chapter Hotel in Cheltenham and the Gherkin in London. Paul was an avid Tottenham Hotspur fan and enjoyed fishing, although a successful fishing trip was not always guaranteed!
“My grandfather was and still is a great inspiration to me. He joined the army as a boy soldier in World War Two as a radio operator, serving in Africa before joining GCHQ at the end of the war and moving around the world to live and work in places such as Germany, Singapore and Cyprus, before settling in Cheltenham. Incredibly bright and witty to the end, I have fond memories of time spent playing card games, fiddling about with old radios, and Grandpa always standing to attention with a salute every time I left his house.
“I did this for them and I hope my story will encourage others to seek challenges that may at first seem out of reach. With the right determination and support from family and friends, anything is possible."
It's amazing seeing the generosity of others
“I want to say huge thanks to the generosity of family, friends and work colleagues. I am eternally grateful for all their kind donations and well wishes."
Hugh’s initial target was to raise £1,000 but so far he has raised over £1,400 - he doesn’t plan to stop there either, and is already looking for his next challenge!
“I would encourage everyone and anyone to pick a challenge and go for it. Whether it is walking your first Saturday morning Park Run, dusting off your bike for the morning commute to work or even volunteering at your local Sue Ryder shop or hospice once a month.
“It is the most amazing thing to see the generosity of others in giving up their time and patience to a great cause, and the bonus is you get to meet awesome and like-minded individuals, who will more than likely become great friends.”
“Without the generosity of fundraisers and volunteers, our hospices would simply not be able to run. I would like to thank everyone who gives up their time to support Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, in particular my father Stewart Walton who has thrown himself into raising money for the hospice, creating the now-annual fashion show, and also my amazing aunt Jane Scott, who somehow manages to juggle being the best daughter, mother, aunty and teacher with volunteering at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice too - always with a smile.”
Feel inspired to take on a challenge for Sue Ryder? Find a challenge fit for you.
Or do you want to volunteer like Hugh’s father and aunt? Take a look at our volunteering opportunities.
Hugh Walton was inspired to go to extreme lengths and take on a brand new challenge to raise vital funds for Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, who cared for his late Grandfather and Uncle.