Disabled veteran’s epic journey for good cause

HARD WORK Paul Smith is due to finish his epic wheelchair journey today.  Picture: Malcolm Wells (13987-7327)
HARD WORK Paul Smith is due to finish his epic wheelchair journey today. Picture: Malcolm Wells (13987-7327)
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SELFLESS fundraiser Paul Smith is due to complete his epic 325-mile trip today — from Plymouth to London in his wheelchair.

The disabled veteran from Cosham, set off on Sunday and is aiming to reach his finish point in London at lunchtime.

The trip is the sixth fundraiser Paul, who was severely injured in a car accident in 1991, has completed and it is his biggest challenge so far.

The 54-year-old was a Leading Seaman Specialist in the Royal Navy, serving in both the Falklands and the first Gulf campaign, before the accident.

Paul said: ‘The road to recovery remains long and difficult.

‘While I am mainly confined to a wheelchair, I find it helps greatly to concentrate a large proportion of my time on helping others, who I feel are less fortunate than myself.’

Last year he raised £35,000 by propelling himself 200 miles from Portland, Dorset, to the Emirates Stadium, London.

In total, Paul has raised nearly £2m for good causes over five years.

This year, he hopes to raise £50,000 for Save the Children UK.

Paul said: ‘We all concentrate on giving to overseas charities.

‘We see countries like Africa, Cambodia and Pakistan, we see the suffering they show on the TV and we tend to forget what’s happening right here in our own country.

‘There are 2.6m children living below the poverty line in the UK, that’s why I chose to help them this year.’

Reaching speeds of up to 50mph, Paul said the hills near Dorchester were the hardest work.

He is being supported along the route by loving wife Jane. Paul and his team are stopping overnight at hotels along the way provided by sponsors.

On Tuesday, he got to spend the night at home in Cosham as he passed through Portsmouth.

When the team were in Cosham an elderly lady made a substantial donation, which Paul said he was very grateful for and ‘was a very emotional moment’.

Today he is expected to reach the Melia White House Hotel, Regents Park, London, at lunchtime.

To make a donation go to justgiving.com/challenge300.