DISABLED Paul Smith is gearing up for an epic 200-mile wheelchair challenge.
The former leading seaman specialist in the Royal Navy will self-propel his wheelchair from Portland in Dorset on Monday all the way to the finish line at the Emirates Stadium in London.
The 54-year-old was left severely disabled in a road accident in 1991 but his injuries haven’t stopped him raising more than £1.5m for charity. His target this year is to raise £50,000 for Save the Children – and fundraising efforts so far have broken the £10,000 barrier.
He has undertaken a gruelling training schedule ahead of this mammoth task with the help of wife Jane.
Mr Smith, who chose to leave from Portland as it was where he was based while in the navy, said: ‘I’m ready now. It’s been hard but I have enjoyed it.
‘The thought of all the kids that are suffering and struggling in this country have got me through it.
‘They really need the help we can give them.
‘Jane has been a great support. She’s given up some food so I can have a specific diet, which must be hard. As well as looking after me, the house and the garden, it’s quite something to be able to support me for the challenge as well.’
He revealed an anonymous donor is willing to match his fundraising efforts if he reaches £20,000, and urged readers of The News to help him reach that target.
Mr Smith, of Magdala Way, Cosham, added: ‘He has supported us in the past and we know it’s a very generous thing to do. It means a great deal that someone thinks what I am doing is well worth helping the children we are doing it for.
‘We’ve raised £10,000 already and need another £10,000 from generous people.’
He aims to reach Cosham on Tuesday before leaving Fratton Park on Wednesday.
Mrs Smith praised her husband’s determination.
She said: ‘The family and I are so proud of Paul, his determination and courage to take on such challenging events are amazing. Children in this world and indeed in this country are a great deal better off through his fundraising efforts.
‘He has my full support today and for any other challenge he takes on in the future.’
To donate, visit justgiving.com/challenge200 or donate anonymously by text. Text the code QEJA87 and the amount to 70070.