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Martin takes on 'final challenge' once more

PUBLISHED: 10:00 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:47 01 May 2019

Martin Symons from Poringland near Norwich will attempt to travel across the width of England in his special all-terrain wheelchair. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Martin Symons from Poringland near Norwich will attempt to travel across the width of England in his special all-terrain wheelchair. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Archant

Ten years ago, Martin Symons travelled the length of Hadrian's Wall in an off-road wheelchair.

Martin Symons from Poringland near Norwich will attempt to travel across the width of England in his special all-terrain wheelchair. Picture: Neil DidsburyMartin Symons from Poringland near Norwich will attempt to travel across the width of England in his special all-terrain wheelchair. Picture: Neil Didsbury

At the time, having just survived eight years of respiratory collapse, the 52-year-old from Poringland thought it would be his final challenge.

But now, having completed several more final challenges since, Mr Symons - who was born with a rare condition called Klippel-Feil Syndrome, which has led to Scoliosis, restricted movement and respiratory issues - is returning to take on the 105-mile journey once more.

Mr Symons will take on the challenge in his Boma, an electric off-road wheelchair, and will be accompanied by a 15-strong support crew, who will escort him along the route, help him to cross obstacles along the way such as stiles and provide personal care.

He said the challenge, called Coast to Coast, would be demanding, and added: “I think it will be quite emotional. I will confess when I did the first one, on the last day it was quite emotional, it was quite a big challenge because [at the time] I didn't think I'd be able to cope.”

Martin Symons from Poringland near Norwich will attempt to travel across the width of England in his special all-terrain wheelchair. Picture: Neil DidsburyMartin Symons from Poringland near Norwich will attempt to travel across the width of England in his special all-terrain wheelchair. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Hoping to complete around 20 miles a day, Mr Symons will then require a full eight hours on a ventilator each night to recover enough strength for the following day's adventure.

His journey will take him from Bowness-on-Solway, in north-west Cumbria, to South Shields in Newcastle, taking in 105 miles of Hadrian's Wall.

He said: “People often say there's no such thing as can't, but that's not always the case. The way I see it is you can do things but you have to find a different way.

“It's about finding things that you can do and doing it differently.”

Martin Symons from Poringland near Norwich will attempt to travel across the width of England in his special all-terrain wheelchair. Picture: Neil DidsburyMartin Symons from Poringland near Norwich will attempt to travel across the width of England in his special all-terrain wheelchair. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Mr Symons, who is preparing for the trip by doing shorter journeys closer to home, said: “I'll try and get out as much as I can. It's more to do with helping me with my mental stamina. We're doing about 20 miles a day so it's a lot of concentration.”

Raising money for three organisations, Lane Fox Respiratory Unit Patients' Association at St Thomas's Hospital in London, Scoliosis Association UK and Cancer Research UK.

Mr Symons said he hoped to match his 2009 fundraising total of £5,500, and will travel up to Bowness-on-Solway on June 30 ahead of starting the Coast to Coast challenge on July 1.

To donate, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MartinSymons

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