Paralysed man walks 234,000 steps in robotic suit to help hospital

Simon Kindleysides, from Blofield, who is paralysed, after walking 125 miles in a robotic suit throughout February 2021...

Simon Kindleysides, from Blofield, who is paralysed, after walking 125 miles in a robotic suit throughout February 2021 for the Norfolk and Norwich Hospitals Charity. - Credit: Simon Kindleysides

A paralysed record holder has raised thousands of pounds for life-saving hospital equipment after walking over 234,000 steps in a robotic suit in a month.

Simon Kindleysides, 36, from Blofield, completed 125 miles in his battery-powered ReWalk exoskeleton in February by walking at least four miles a day for the Norfolk and Norwich Hospitals Charity.

To make the £100,000 piece of kit work, the father-of-three has to operate it himself by tilting his arms which activates his hips.

He initially wanted to raise £2,000 and walk 112 miles but after an outpouring of support, Mr Kindleysides has raised just over £13,400 and hopes to hand over £15,000 when the money is donated to the charity in a few weeks' time.

He said: "The most exciting part of the task was walking in snow. I hadn't walked in snow for 10 years. When I went out into the snow I was leaving footprints and not wheelchair tyre tracks. It was amazing.

"Going out in snow and ice was scary because I was on my own and have never fallen over in the suit before so did not know what would happen if I slipped over. The snow was pretty bad for a while so I couldn't take a week off.

"The support I got from people was amazing. People were coming out and clapping me and giving me money from their cars. It was magical. The generosity from strangers to support me and the NHS was overwhelming."

The 36-year-old said the money would go towards intensive care unit equipment and a new £6.5m operating theatre complex at the Jenny Lind Children's Hospital, part of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

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Mr Kindleysides was diagnosed with functional neurological disorder and a glioma brain tumour in 2013, leaving him paralysed from the waist down.

He said NNUH staff had saved his life several times, which is partly why he did the challenge as a thank you, but he also wanted to boost his mental health during lockdown.

Mr Kindleysides, who became the fastest man to complete the London Marathon independently in a robotic walking suit in 2018, said the February challenge was more painful than the marathon.

He added: "Anything is possible if you put your mind to it."

NNUH chief nurse, Prof Nancy Fontaine, said: “We want to say a massive thank you to Simon from every member of the NNUH team. We’ve all seen his tremendous courage and tenacious approach to this challenge. Simon is an outstanding individual who deserves our congratulations on his fantastic achievement. By thinking of our hospital charity he will benefit many of his fellow patients here at the Norfolk and Norwich.”

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