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The ultimate challenge

484. Tony Eaton

A Nottinghamshire man has raised thousands of pounds for charities in endurance challenges despite being told he would never be able to walk again.

Tony Eaton has raised over £70,000 for various charities over the last 30 years by running marathons, half-marathons and bike rides. Beneficiaries include Cancer Research UK, Macmillan, the British Heart Foundation, Parkinson’s UK and Help for Heroes.

In 1979, Tony’s vehicle was hit by a lorry driven by a man over the drink drive limit. He was subsequently told he would probably never walk again as a result of the accident. He defied the odds and taught himself how to walk again after numerous operations on his legs, knees, arms, throat, spine and feet. Tony still has operations due to complications from the accident, with his 37th coming up, making his achievements even more incredible.

As well as his personal fundraising, Tony regularly speaks at charity fundraising events, attends local wreath laying ceremonies and recently donated his 88th pint of blood. In 2014 he retired from his role as a Major in Nottinghamshire Army cadet force, where he worked with young adults and children.

In particular, many local wounded soldiers and their families have benefited from Tony’s work with Help for Heroes – he regularly speaks to and helps families that have lost service personnel in conflicts.

Tony has been inspired not only by his own experiences, but also that of close family and friends. After losing his brother in law to cancer he ran the London marathon for Macmillan, raising £3,500, followed by other runs for Cancer Research UK. He also lost his father in law to Parkinson’s and has a friend who suffers with heart conditions, which led him to fundraise for Parkinson’s UK and British Heart Foundation, completing numerous High Peaks Trails walks.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Tony has shown remarkable strength and determination in overcoming his extensive injuries to undertake tough physical challenges throughout his life. Tony has raised a fantastic amount of money for the charities he supports and I am delighted to recognise him as the UK’s 484th Point of Light.”

Tony said:

“I cannot begin to describe how proud and honoured I am to receive the Prime Minister’s Point of Light Award. A very special thanks to my wife Julie and my family who have been at my side over the many years of fundraising, helping me get through my many many operations and supporting me at races and cycle rides, despite being told many times I cannot, or not to, I did it. And of course a big thankyou to our amazing NHS doctors, nurses and physios who kept me alive and put me back together, without them I would not have been here, and able to fundraise and to give something back. Also a huge thankyou to the amazing people of Nottinghamshire and Bassetlaw who have helped me raise tens of thousands for worthwhile charities, especially over the last 7+ years for Help for Heroes.

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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