A Wigan pole studio owner is certainly going the extra mile when it comes to fund-raising after setting himself a truly marathon running challenge.
Whereas many charity supporters might choose to do one marathon or maybe a handful, Ince fund-raiser Andrew Farrall has opted to take on no fewer than 20 of the 26.2-mile events in a year.
Andrew, who runs Chrome Dance in Hindley, is taking on the herculean effort for Wigan charity Happy Smiles, which seeks to overturn negative preconceptions about disabled people by focusing on what they can do rather than any limitations they may have.
Andrew said he chose a score of marathons as he wanted to do something as attention-grabbing and challenging as possible.
He said Happy Smiles is also a cause very close to his heart as he himself has Asperger’s syndrome, dyslexia and scotopic sensitivity syndrome, a disorder affecting the brain’s ability to process visual information.
The 26-year-old said: “Most people would probably do one marathon for charity but I thought I might as well do something ridiculous, so I’ve decided to do 20. I want to do something quite extreme, something people might think they wouldn’t be able to do themselves.
“I’ve done a couple of marathons before. I’ve only been running for about a year and I’m not constantly running, most of my fitness comes from pole. I’ve done Manchester and Huddersfield’s, which I was only told part way round was one of the UK’s hardest!
“I’m raising money for Happy Smiles because it’s about educating people about disability and helping people with disabilities. I’ve been discriminated against in the past by teachers and other people high up. At one point I was told I couldn’t do hairdressing because I couldn’t read or write. Getting told you can’t do stuff really puts you down.”
Happy Smiles was founded by pals Alex Winstanley and Haydn Smith and its work includes visiting schools to explain the mindset needed to succeed in a diverse society and train inclusion champions to speak positively about disabilities. The concern started as a blog to cheer up Haydn, who has cerebral palsy and other complex needs, with his carer Alex asking people to send in pictures of happy smiles.
Andrew is still finalising the details of his marathon challenge, although he has decided he is definitely entering Chester’s and has his fingers crossed he might be one of the lucky ones selected for London, which is always heavily oversubscribed. He is also looking for events throughout the year to fill out the fund-raising calendar and admits there may be some busy months ahead to compensate for a shortage in the winter.
To donate visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/runningwithahappysmile