Sleaford man rows 26 miles for charity despite MS

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A Sleaford man with multiple sclerosis (MS) – a condition affecting the nervous system – has been hailed as ‘inspirational’ after rowing the length of a marathon for charity.

Dave Randall, 65, recently completed 42,195 metres in three hours and 58 minutes on a rowing machine at the Carre’s Grammar School Fitness Suite. In doing so, he raised more than £1,000 for the Grantham and Sleaford Branch of the MS Society.

“Over several months, I gradually built up my strength, which inspired me to do something to raise some money for the MS Society while I could,”

Dave Randall

Dave, who lives in Sleaford with his wife Barbara and is a stores manager at Moy Park, was diagnosed with primary progressive MS in 2003 after experiencing numbness in his legs and pain in his feet. He visited the GP after weeks of tripping as he walked and unexplained exhaustion.

The father-of-two was encouraged to keep as fit as possible and took to walking his two dogs. However, Dave says his condition has still progressed.

“I started noticing a weakness on my left side, especially in my leg,” he said. “I carried on, but one early morning while walking the dogs, I fell into a water-filled dyke. There must have been sharp objects at the bottom because I was covered in blood from cuts to my hands and wrists. The whole ordeal really affected my confidence.”

Despite the setback, Dave pushed on with a 12-week training programme at Carre’s Grammer School Community Gym he started before his fall. He says he forced himself through the training, which helped rebuild his confidence.

“Over several months I gradually built my strength, which inspired me to do something to raise some money for the MS Society while I could,” he said. “I knew couldn’t run or walk a marathon, so I came up with the idea of doing the same distance on a rower. I had lots of support my wife Barbara, my eldest daughter, my two eldest grandsons, my trainer Nigel and other people from the gym and teachers from the school.

“I struggled in the third hour with a severe cramp in my left thigh and pain in my lower torso, but everyone’s cheers helped me through the pain and I finished the challenge in wonderful time.”

He said he was ‘very thankful’ to those at the gym (who have nominated him for a Lincolnshire Sports Awards), adding: “I hope my challenge inspires other people living with MS to stay as fit as they possibly can, for as long as they can, in any way they can.”

Caroline Kew, from the MS Society, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Dave for taking on such an inspiring challenge! His generous donation will help us drive innovative research to stop MS as well as support people affected by the condition in living independent and fulfilling lives.”

Sponsor Dave at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Barbara-Randall2.