Watching severely disabled fundraiser Stephen Collins in action makes you wonder just what drives this incredible man on.

Every step is hard work, each movement a big effort and at times tears come to his eyes with his face suddenly screwed up in pain.

But if you dare suggest he stop and take a breather he’ll give you one of his steely looks that suggests you go forth.

In a world dominated by bad news Stephen is a shining light, a beacon of hope for all that’s good about humanity.

Born with cerebral palsy on April 21, 1959, doctors told his parents he’d never walk.

He quickly proved them wrong and has proved everyone wrong throughout his life by walking, talking and even running his successful mobility equipment business, Lazarus Mobility, mentored by Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne.

Now retired, he’s not one to stop and on Saturday – the day before his 65th birthday – walked 7.5 miles from Slaithwaite to Castle Hill to raise money for Ruddi’s Retreat. The last three miles or so are up Lockwood Scar and then right up through Newsome to Castle Hill.


When he first told me he was going to do this I joined the ranks of the unbelievers thinking he’d never make it up Lockwood Scar.

He proved me wrong and conquered that particular peak in just 45 minutes.

But it was a struggle. You could see that in his face, in his legs, in his neck, in his back. Yet at no point in the eight hours it took him to complete this most gruelling of treks did he complain. Not once. Moaning is not in his vocabulary.

His aim was to raise £1,500 for Ruddi’s and the figure kept going up and up thanks to some great Facebook live streaming by Ruddi’s assistant manager Vicki Green. When Stephen was told en route the total had soared past his target he shed a few tears and this morning it’s £2,200.

Further up the road a few more rolled down his face. I reckon it was pain but he said nothing. The grimace turned to a smile and he carried on.

“I’ll sleep well tonight,” he then told me. “I’ll not be needing my usual tot of Jack Daniels.”

And then he was off again, head down, determined to get up the next steep bit.

So, watching him made me think just what qualities does a hero need.

People regard musicians, footballers or celebrities as heroes. Yes, they bring entertainment and pleasure to millions of people but are they heroes?

Heroes carry on against the odds, they never give up hope, they show a grit, determination and a never-say-die attitude that pushes the human spirit to its absolute limits.

And they put others first, wanting to help rather than ever thinking about themselves.

Stephen Collins is a natural born hero.

Despite his disabilities he insists he’s been lucky in life and enjoys doing all he can to help others. This is genuine. This is from the heart. This is someone who is an inspiration.

When people saw Stephen struggling up the steep roads near Castle Hill cars stopped and the drivers handed over all the change they had.

He’d done it pushing his old rollator which gives him the support he needs to walk. The company which makes it, Rehasense, had heard about Stephen and its PR had travelled up from Nottingham to see Stephen do his challenge. He was as amazed and moved as I was at what Stephen was going through to achieve his challenge.

When he finished, the PR opened the boot of his car and gave Stephen his birthday present, a brand new top-of-the-range rollator.

So now he has a new set of wheels it looks like we’ve far from heard the last of Stephen and his ‘against all odds’ challenges.

Goodness knows what he’ll think up next but he can be sure he’ll be backed all the way by his proud Huddersfield community.

Happy birthday, Stephen, from all of us. You’re a true Huddersfield hero.

To donate go to Stephen’s fundraising page HERE

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.