Wigan charity dad determined to keep busy

A dad who enjoys taking on wacky challenges for charity is certainly not putting up his feet after having to postpone his latest fund-raiser.
Nigel BrookwellNigel Brookwell
Nigel Brookwell

Nigel Brookwell had planned to walk 26.2 miles - the distance of a marathon - in a vintage diving suit weighing a whopping 80kg.

He was going to split it up into 26 shorter walks in a variety of locations, including Haigh Hall, Rivington, Manchester city centre and even Snowdon, and collect donations for charity as he went.

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It was his latest physical challenge in aid of charity FORME, inspired by his son Harry, now 17, who was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as ME, in 2016.

But Nigel, who lives in Swinley, has had to postpone his fund-raiser due to the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions put in place.

He hopes to be able to take on the challenge in future, once the dangers posed by the illness have passed.

In the meantime, the avid gym-goer has had to find other ways to maintain his fitness and is using some more unusual methods.

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Nigel has been walking 10km with a weighted rucksack and even doing press-ups along the canal towpath.

He has also been chopping wood in the plantations at Haigh Woodland Park and delivering logs to a friend, who has a log-burning stove.

The 46-year-old chooses trees which have already been felled and usually heads out just before dark, when there are few people around, allowing him to follow social distancing guidelines.

He said: “It’s a great, old school way of keeping fit. The actual logs I am putting in my rucksack, walking to my friend’s house and delivering them because he is running low. All the deliveries have ground to a halt and he has a young family. It’s a way of me keeping fit and helping him.

“I’m trying to make the best of a bad situation.

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“I have trained so hard for this challenge that has suddenly had to be postponed, and understandably so, but I am not being defeated. At the end of the day, I’m a Wiganer and I won’t be defeated by this. I’m not being an idiot either and risking other people, I’m being sensible.”

Nigel hopes his less conventional methods of keeping fit will inspire other people to get active in their own way, rather than developing an inactive lifestyle while restrictions on movement continue.

He is worried about people’s physical and mental health suffering if they do not move enough, but hopes people will still follow Government guidelines.

He said: “You don’t have to go to a gym to be fit - just go out for a walk. Even in these limited times, you can do something.”

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He added:” I’m purely training to keep my fitness up and my spirits up. It’s not vanity, it’s sanity.”

Nigel is continuing to collect donations for FORME ahead of his rearranged marathon challenge. They can be made at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NIGELBROOKWELL.

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