An athletic student is taking on one of the toughest challenges in sport in aid of a stroke charity.
Simon Blakemore, from Hindley Green, will push himself to the limit when he takes on the gruelling Ironman UK in the region for Think Ahead Stroke.
The event starts with a 2.4-mile swim in Pennington Flash in Leigh before heading through the borough onto a hilly 112-mile bike course before a full marathon takes the exhausted competitors to the finish line in Bolton.
Simon, 31, is taking on the extraordinary challenge for the Ince-based charity and having to juggle his training around a post-graduate degree in occupational therapy at the University of Salford.
He said: “Living locally, I’ve been aware of Think Ahead Stroke and the vital work it does in our community, and I sometimes worry that smaller, local charities get pushed to one side when it comes to donations and fund-raising.
“So I thought: if I’m going to put myself through all of this, let’s raise a few pounds for a worthy cause in the area while I’m at it. My target is £1,000, and I’ve already reached £350 through family and friends.
“This is the first time I’ve attempted the full distance event, which is definitely a bit daunting, but I’m hoping that any sponsorship will help drive me onto that distant finishing line.”
As part of building up to the full Ironman Simon has done a couple of events over half the distance, known as 70.3 races, including one in mountainous Snowdonia in Wales.
Simon is keenly involved in the work of the charity based at Ashland House and played a huge role in setting up the Think Ahead Tavern earlier this week.
A weekly support group for working-age stroke survivors, the Tavern meets on Tuesday afternoons for traditional pub games and quizzes.
Simon’s commitment to such a draining physical challenge as the Ironman, as well as his studies and his work with Wigan stroke survivors, has certainly impressed the team at Think Ahead.
Executive manager Carol Sankey said: “Simon has been such a find for the charity this year, and the race is just the icing on the cake for all he help he’s given us in 2019.
“All I can do is thank him again – he’s a star, and it’s very much appreciated.
“We guarantee that every penny raised for Think Ahead is used on the ground in our community.”
Ironman UK is on July 14. To sponsor Simon, visit the charity’s social media fund-raising page at www.facebook.com/ThinkAheadStroke
Anyone wanting to help raise money for the charity can also get in touch or set up their own page by visiting www.think-ahead.org.uk/Pages/Fundraisers