By Andy Hirst
A severely disabled Huddersfield man who was told he may never walk again after badly breaking his leg is to do a sponsored walk to raise hundreds of pounds for charity.
Stephen Collins, who has cerebral palsy, will take around five hours to cover the five miles using his walker … and it will take him a week to physically recover from the challenge.
The 63-year-old from Longwood is doing the walk to raise money for Cancer Research UK after he lost his dad, Walter, and sister-in-law to the disease and was also inspired by journalist Dame Deborah James’ brave and highly-publicised fight against bowel cancer which claimed her life in June this year.
Stephen has been in training for the walk since the start of August, slowly building the distance up and it will be a high profile one as he’ll walk around Greenhead Park three times, down to the Cancer Research shop on Ramsden Street in Huddersfield town centre and then back up to Greenhead Park for another lap. Each lap of the park is just over a mile.
Stephen will start in the park at 8am on Saturday (October 1) at the bottom park gates on Trinity Street and people can help him by donating on his Cancer Research giving page at https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/stephen-rs-giving-page
The usual hundreds of Saturday morning park runners will be passing him but he’s become a familiar sight to them on his training runs.
Stephen said: “They’re great. They keep on encouraging and tell me to keep going.”
He added: “People are more than welcome to join me for part of the walk. I just want to do something to help the world get to a stage when all cancers are cured.”
In 2018 Stephen suffered a badly broken leg in two places when he tripped, fell and then became trapped beneath a door on an industrial unit.
He said: “I knew it was bad as I heard a crunch when the door hit me and when I looked down at my ankle I realised it was pointing the wrong way. The doctors told me I may never walk again but I was determined to do so. I’ve never let cerebral palsy get me down. My philosophy on life is you just have to do your best and now I’m doing all I can to help others by raising as much money as I can for Cancer Research.”
Stephen has been training in Greenhead Park six days a week, only allowing himself Sundays off.
He admitted: “It can be very painful some mornings. I always try to get up early to do my training walk and some mornings my legs just won’t get going.”
Stephen will be with wife Sally, a nurse, and their 28-year-old daughter, Rose, on the walk.
He did a fundraising walk for NHS charities two years ago during the pandemic to say thanks for fixing his broken leg and for all that frontline staff were doing to help Covid sufferers. That time he walked from his home in Longwood two miles to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and raised £3,700.
Before he retired Stephen ran his own business, Lazarus Mobility, for several years in Huddersfield selling mobility aids and was mentored by Dragons Den star and entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne.
Stephen will be live-streaming parts of his walk on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/stephen.r.collins
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting.