A DETERMINED dad who had his career aspirations shattered after contracting a deadly disease is hoping to inspire others as he prepares to row the length of the English Channel for charity.

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Simon Richardson, from Burgh Castle, was diagnosed with Tuberculosis soon after returning to Norfolk this spring from a six-year global travelling adventure.

The shock diagnosis scrapped the super fit 28-year-old’s lifelong ambition of a career in the Army, as he went from being able to run a mile in five minutes to getting out of breath after walking 100 metres.

Nervous, upset and disbelieving he was put on a six-month course of drugs, which should have cured the disease, but after a few weeks he was dealt even more bad news.

On a second trip to hospital his specialist told him he was among 10pc of the world’s population that was resistant to treatment and would need an even longer and stronger course of medication to beat TB.

But the reign of devastating blows has not dented his determination and he is now preparing to row 34,000 metres - 21 miles - in one sitting in aid of campaigning charity TB Alert.

Simon, who ran a marathon in a desert and trekked to Everest base camp during his travels, said: “Some people think I’m a bit mad but that’s the way I have always been. “Obviously my health comes first and my body does get tired but I will do it.

“I could just do it every day for half hour but I think that’s too easy. For me I want something that’s going to challenge me. I know I could do it in good shape so it’s going to be more of a mental challenge for me.”

The former Cliff Park High School and East Norfolk Sixth Form College student began getting chest pains soon after signing a 12-year contact with the Army to work as an officer.

At first he thought he had pulled a muscle but when the pain got worse he went to see his GP and after an exam and tests at hospital, he was given the dumbfounding diagnosis.

But in an inspiring turn around of efforts Simon has decided to turn negative into positive by taking up his charity challenge.

Simon, dad to five year old Stella, added: “When my doctor told me I had TB, it was like someone had punched me in the stomach. I didn’t even really want to believe it to start off with.

“A lot of people are worse off than me, at least I have got the treatment, and I just wanted to make something good out of bad.

“I want to raise awareness of the condition, I saw people living with it around the world but you never think it’s going to happen to you. I hope my challenge can open the eyes of people and be an inspiration for people.”

He is now training as much as possible at BWell gym in Yarmouth, which is hosting his charity effort next month, and working towards his £3,000 fundraising target. And with friends all over the world he is fast closing in on his four-figure amount having raised £1,200 in just five days through an online appeal and cash donations from fellow gym goers.

Simon added: “I have overcome many challenges in my life, TB will not beat me.”

To support him visit www.justgiving.com/Simon-Richardson6 Sponsorship forms and donation tins can also be found at BWell gym in Bessemer Way.

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