Hit-and-run crash ends fundraiser’s last epic challenge

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CHARITIES will miss out after an inspiring fundraiser planning to donate £100,000 to children’s groups was injured in a hit-and-run incident.

Heartbroken Paul Smith has spent nearly 10 months training to push himself 2.7 miles up the Rock of Gibraltar for children’s charity.

Paul Smith

Paul Smith

But the 56-year-old’s hopes of raising thousands are all but over after he was hit by a car while out training in Portsmouth.

He told The News: ‘It’s heartbreaking. A lot of people are involved with this and help with the challenge.

‘After months of training it seems to be going down the drain.

‘This was my last challenge – I’ve been fundraising for eight years.’

It was a bitter blow for Paul after he suffered head injuries in a crash in 1991.

Paul was training in his wheelchair out on Havant Road heading toward Farlington from his Cosham home when a silver car pulled alongside.

It matched his speed before swerving into him, the ex-Royal Navy sailor said.

‘It turned me sideways because of the momentum of the wheelchair,’ he said.

‘My chair went over and over – obviously I came out. My shoulders are hurting so much I can’t train very well.’

Initially Paul did not think he was hurt but is now suffering a lot of pain in his left shoulder and some in his right.

That has jeopardised the incredible challenge he set himself – despite already receiving £3,000 in donations.

He has not reported the crash to the police as he says he can only remember the car was silver and has no other leads.

Before the incident he was on schedule to complete his gruelling task, having already pushed himself up Butser Hill six times on hard grass in training.

The stalwart fundraiser has already raised £2m and done eight arduous challenges in his wheelchair in the past six years – including pushing himself 325 miles from Plymouth to London over five-and-a-half days in 2013.

His challenge in Gibraltar for Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and charity Save the Children was set to be his last but now is unlikely to happen.

Catherine Sheard, from Great Ormond Street, said: ‘We were very sorry to hear about what happened to Paul.

‘He has been involved in lots of fundraising activity for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity for many years and we value all his support.

‘We wish him all the best in his recovery and would like to take this opportunity to thank him for all his hard work.

‘He is very inspiring and has helped us to make a difference for patients.’