A Bishop’s Stortford man who set about transforming his health after hitting a mid-life slump is about to undertake his 12th endurance challenge in less than a year for St Clare Hospice.
Sales manager Richard Funnell will embark upon the gruelling London to Cambridge 100km Ultra Challenge on August 29 having already completed 10 other challenges, ranging from 10km runs to obstacle courses, since September last year in aid of the Hastingwood-based charity.
With two more challenges to come later this year, by November he will have completed a total of 14 events in a bid to raise £2,000 to support people living with a terminal or life-limiting illness and their loved ones.
Richard, 57, was inspired to begin his health and fitness kick after tipping the scales at 18 stone. “Being overweight didn’t come as any great surprise,” he said. “I didn’t have a suit that fitted, a pair of trousers that weren’t tight, and even my best friend had my number saved in his mobile phone under ‘fatty’. The surprise was just how fat I had let myself become.
“In the preceding few years I had had gym memberships, worked with personal trainers and been on some pretty depressing diets. But all this does not come cheap and true to form, I eventually gave up going. But it was clear I had to make some serious changes and I needed to do something I could focus on which would be motivational and life changing. Taking a good, hard look in the mirror and the person smiling back at me, it dawned that I was a prime candidate for hospital. The wake-up call had arrived and, if I hit the snooze button again, it was likely I would die.”
He signed up with Regiment Fitness after stumbling across one of their boot camps while walking the family dog, Archie, in Southern Park, near Thorley, and soon the weight was falling off.
With my fitness up and my weight under control, it was time to add more purpose and dimension to my training,” said the dad-of-two. “So I decided to take part in a sponsored walk in support of a local charity, and one which helps people in my community. Two years ago, my wife was the victim of breast cancer and although it was caught very early and she remains in full remission, it was, and remains, a life-changing experience for her, our family and friends.
“Through our own personal experience with cancer, we knew a lot of money quite rightly goes into funding research. However, we knew nothing about what happens when the second and third chance runs out. So we started looking into hospice care and discovered it helps people to live as actively as possible, from the point at which their illness is diagnosed as incurable to the end of their lives, however long that may be. And it carries on caring for families, carers and friends beyond the death of the person they love. It was at this point I discovered St Clare and, when I asked around, I was amazed at how many people we knew who had been touched, either personally or remotely, by this fantastic organisation. I now had my purpose.”
Since then Richard has completed the St Clare Hospice 10km Run, Trekfest: The Beacons, Nuclear Fall Out and Hatfield Broad Oak 10km Run among others.
He said: “These events would not be possible if I didn’t train and, whatever you think, I have had to work hard to get where I am today. I am the oldest in our region at Regiment Fitness, but I am able to compete with the youngest. My nickname at training is ‘Dad’ and the younger members are happy to partner me. I don’t see my training or any of the challenges I have taken on as a cost – I view them as an investment in my future, supported by some amazing people.”
You can help Richard reach his £2,000 fundraising target by visiting his sponsorship page https://www.justgiving.com/RICHARD-FUNNELL3/. You can read his blog here http://stclarehospice.org.uk/news_posts/blog-richard-goes-the-extra-extra-extra-mile/.
And if you have been inspired to take up a challenge for St Clare, then see http://stclarehospice.org.uk/get-involved/challenges/.