A CROSBY pensioner who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and finds it difficult to walk has completed a marathon in his garden to raise £12,600 for charity.
Dennis Gill, 72, completed 1,050 laps around his back garden to reach the 26mile target, which he finished across a 37 day period.
A former athletics coach, Dennis was diagnosed with Parkinson’s seven years ago and finds walking a challenge at times, so to complete a marathon is an incredible achievement.
The £12,600 that Dennis has raised from the challenge will go towards an emergency appeal launched by Parkinson’s UK last month, which must raise £95,000 every week to continue delivering critical support to the Parkinson’s community.
Dennis said: “Since my diagnosis of Parkinson's seven years ago, I have found walking a challenge at times, let alone running. I’ve been so moved by the support and encouragement that I’ve had from everyone I know and the local community through this challenge - it really helped me keep going even when I was finding it really tough. Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed over the last few weeks.”
Dennis, a former runner himself, was a coach at Southport Waterloo Athletics Club, and also coached children from local primary and secondary schools for over 38 years.
He also found himself, along with his teammates, in the Guinness Book of Records in 1986 for running from John O Groats to Lands Ends in a non stop relay team taking just four days, one and a half hours to complete.
Some of the athletes he has coached over the years, along with fellow coaches, gave him a surprise Zoom call just before his final few laps of the garden - to give him a boost and help him get over the finish line.
Katherine Crawford, Director of Services at Parkinson’s UK, said: “We are so thrilled that Dennis has completed this incredible challenge for Parkinson’s UK, especially during this difficult time.
“His efforts will make a real difference to the Parkinson’s community, which needs support from Parkinson’s UK more than ever before. We are adapting to the current crisis by boosting our helpline capacity, building the online Parkinson’s community and making sure people who normally receive face-to-face support continue to do so in new ways.”