Charles Deans’ mammoth fundraising challenge which saw him travel 1000 miles in his wheelchair has come to an end.
Mr Deans, 46, from Wigton, battled the elements to raise more than £13,000 for Eden Valley Hospice and The Calvert Trust.
He set himself the goal of travelling the distance between John O’Groats and Land’s End on Cumbrian roads – when he surpassed that goal, he set himself the new challenge of reaching the 1000 miles mark.
On Saturday, he completed that last leg by travelling from The Calvert Trust near Keswick to Eden Valley Hospice in Carlisle.
Mr Deans said: “Many people said I was crazy for attempting it in January, battling the cold, snow, rain, floods and wind, pushing nearly every day.
“I’m definitely not an athlete but I’m very determined. By week four, my body was broken but with the support of my family, close friends and local businesses and a lot of encouragement along the way I’ve completed it.”
There was also a county-wide fundraising competition, among other fundraising efforts, that encouraged children to design the t-shirt he would wear on Saturday.
Carlisle-based law firm Wragg Mark-Bell and Keswick Bikes donated two mountain bikes for the winners.
Nick Kennon, director of Wragg Mark-Bell, said: “Charles’ challenge inspired us to help, we donated the bikes for the t-shirt competition to encourage much-needed donations for two local charities that provide a vital service in the area.
“We are thrilled to see Charles reach the end of his challenge having raised such an incredible sum of money.”
The winners were at Eden Valley Hospice on Saturday to cheer Mr Deans on as he crossed the finish line.
Daniel Morris, 10, from Carlisle, said: “I think the two charities Charles has picked to raise money for do really good things. I like what the Calvert Trust does to help children with disabilities get outdoors to have fun. Eden Valley Hospice has helped my family in the past.
“I think Charles is amazing to be doing all these miles in a wheelchair. He is a hero.”
Percy Harrison, 6, from Aikhead near Wigton, added: “I’m so proud of myself for winning this competition. I think Charles is working really hard especially to get up the hills. He is a real life superhero.”
It wasn’t an easy journey for Mr Deans to reach the point of being able to travel 1000 miles in a wheelchair.
He said: “Over the last 15 years, I have had to challenge myself to complete the simplest of tasks that most people take for granted.
“Two years ago I couldn’t lift myself out of my own bed. My goal then was to be able to sit in my wheelchair. I never imagined that in the space of two years I would have lost eight stone in weight, come off all medication, climbed two mountains and completed a 1000 mile push; a push that was inspired by my late sister Helen Deans, who died in November 2020 of pancreatic cancer, aged 43.
“This made me realise that life is a gift and it should not be taken for granted.”
Charities such as Eden Valley Hospice and its children’s hospice Jigsaw and The Calvert Trust have struggled for funding in the last year as the usual fundraising activities have not been able to take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Patricia Livsey, Chief Executive at Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw, said: “We are so grateful that Charles has chosen to support the hospice for this incredible feat. The money he has raised really will make a huge difference to the care, support and compassion provided to local people with life limiting illnesses.”
Rosie Cumella, fundraising officer at the Calvert Trust, said: “On behalf of everyone here at Calvert, we would like to say a huge thank you to Charles for not only raising vital funds to continue our important work, but for spreading awareness of the Trust, enabling more people with disabilities to enjoy outdoor adventures.”
Mr Deans is grateful to all who supported him, but he is particularly grateful to his wife Sara and his daughters Ebony and Lois.
He said: “I never set out to change the world – I just wanted to prove to myself and others that if you want something, bad enough you will push the extra miles to get it.”
- This article was first published online on the News & Star website on 23rd March.
- If you would like to support his fundraising challenge, you donate money here.