RAF Benevolent Fund supporter Sean Allerton recently completed his second 500-mile wheelchair push challenge to raise money for our charity. Sean tells us all about it.
Whilst serving as an RAF Regiment Gunner 20 years ago, I was injured in a motorcycle crash in which I broke my neck, resulting in severe disability that will keep me wheelchair dependent and affect me for the rest of my life. I was 28 at the time.
While I was in hospital, the RAF Benevolent Fund was there to help me plan for my future with regards to housing. I will always be grateful for their support.
After my flying scholarship in 2011, I'd wanted to do something to help raise money for the Fund but I wasn't sure what to do.
In early 2012 I was talking to someone when The Proclaimers were mentioned, and that's when I decided that I would push my wheelchair 500 miles, a distance that is sung in The Proclaimers' hit 'I'm gonna be (500 miles)', around aviation-related locations, and locations related to my service in the RAF Regiment.
I started my challenge in April 2012 pushing my wheelchair 500 miles, mainly at RAF Church Fenton.
I started my challenge with The Proclaimers doing the first two miles with me. During my 500 miles I got to push at other airfields with the Red Arrows, The Blades, and even the then Chief of the Air Staff Sir Stephen Dalton.
As my 500 miles ended, The Proclaimers were there in the cold and rain to join the last mile with me along with friends and guests from the charities I'm supporting. They also joined me in starting the first mile of my second 500-mile challenge.
My second challenge
As my second 500-mile challenge progressed I concentrated on taking advantage of the good weather we had this summer, and my challenge ended at RAF Leeming in late August 2013. Completing my second 500-mile challenge was a fantastic achievement but then I started my 1000-mile challenge on the same day!
The charities I'm supporting still need funds, so I'm glad to be able to support them. There are 8,000 miles in total sung in The Proclaimers' song and while I can't promise to do all 8,000, I will keep going while the charities need help.
So, 70 plus miles into my 1000-mile challenge, and what does October have in store for me? In early October I will be pushing down the "world's busiest single-use runway" at Gatwick (weather permitting) and I'll be doing a 24-hour push at RAF College Cranwell.
Most importantly though is that 20 years to the day after breaking my neck, I will be finishing the journey that I started all those years ago at RAF Akrotiri when I push from the place where my injury occurred, back to the block where I was originally headed. There's been a 20-year delay but I will finish that journey.
By Sean Allerton
To find out more about Sean's challenges and to sponsor him visit www.push500.com.