WHEN Nick Stephens hobbled up to collect the certificate on behalf of his team at the Relay for Life, the room burst into life.
People stood up clapping, cheering and whistling whilst others shed a few tears.
For Nick had just completed a mammoth challenge by walking non-stop for 24 hours in memory of his uncle Malcolm who died after battling with skin cancer two years ago. He completed over 100 miles.
The 30-year-old, a petty officer from HMS Collingwood in Fareham, was away at sea when his uncle passed away and he decided he wanted to do something in his memory.
So Nick took on the challenge in the wind and the rain at the Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth, running the last lap to a rapturous applause.
‘My uncle died when I was away at sea. I didn’t get to say goodbye,’ he said.
‘I decided to take this on to raise money for him.’
At the end, he could barely walk and his feet were covered in blisters.
But Nick said it was all worth it.
‘I felt unbelievable, elated,’ he said.
‘He would think I was an idiot.
‘My feet were in bits at the end. I think events like this are brilliant. They are absolutely amazing.
‘It should be publicised more. It’s not funded enough by the government. There’s not enough awareness for it. But this has been absolutely amazing.’
Nick joined 370 people for the event which took place to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
The other teams all took it in turns to walk around the track.
But Nick took the challenge on alone, taking just 30 seconds each hour to have a break.
‘I didn’t go to the toilet for about the first eight or nine hours,’ he said.
‘I had been eating, people kept on giving me bits of food which was great.
‘The support was absolutely unreal. Everyone was absolutely brilliant.
‘It’s all for the same cause. It’s unbelievable.’
Nick said he was shocked at the heartwarming reception he received when he collected the certificate on behalf of the team, called Malcy’s Warriors.
‘I was shocked, I’m not used to that,’ he said.
‘I didn’t think I did much to deserve that at all. I didn’t expect it. People go through a hell of a lot more pain than you go through to do stuff like this.
‘At 2am I just felt pain, unbelievable pain. And at 6am I just wanted to collapse.
‘The middle of the night was probably the worst pain I had ever felt.
‘Everything was locked up and it was just dark and windy.’
To make a donation, please visit donatetomyrelay.org/malcyswarriors