Captain Tobias Weller: Therapist employed thanks to inspirational fundraiser

A therapist employed with money raised by inspirational fundraiser “Captain” Tobias Weller has said: “I will do everything I can over the coming weeks and months to make him proud.”

Tobias, 10, who has cerebral palsy and autism, was nicknamed “Captain” after he was inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore to start raising money during the pandemic lockdowns.

He completed his third challenge in September and has so far raised more than £150,000 for his school and The Children’s Hospital Charity, in his home town of Sheffield.

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The money raised for the hospital has funded a two-year position for an exercise and physical activity therapist at the Ryegate Centre at the hospital.

Reece Goodwin

The first person to fill the position is Reece Goodwin, from Rotherham, who works alongside physiotherapists and occupational therapists at the centre and said it is his “dream job”.

The 25-year-old said: “I would like to say a special thank you to Tobias and his mum for all they’ve achieved and for making my role here possible.

“I saw them on TV at the time and their example gave me a huge lift, but I never thought I’d be involved in continuing their legacy.

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Fundraiser Tobias Weller raised the money during the pandemic lockdowns

“I’ve met Tobias, he’s quite a character, and it’s lovely to be here because of him. I will do everything I can over the coming weeks and months to make him proud.”

He added: “For me, it’s a really exciting opportunity to give back and help children become more active. I have cerebral palsy, so I have personal experience on how to help children with neurological conditions.

“It’s really rewarding, not only to offer help and support, but to take families through the kind of challenges I’ve had to overcome and give them hope. It’s a dream job for me and, although it’s a very new role, everyone here has been so willing to help me settle in.”

Tobias’s fundraising challenges have been followed around the UK and praised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill.

And, in December, he won the inaugural Captain Sir Tom Moore Young Unsung Hero Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year event and met the 100-year-old.

His most recent challenge involved an Ironman completed over the course of a year, involving 180km on his trike, a 4km swim and running the length of a full marathon.

Speaking when the hospital charity announced the therapy role, Tobias said: “It makes me feel magnificent. If another child managed to achieve what I have achieved because of my fundraising I will be chuffed to bits.”

His mother, Ruth Garbutt, said: “The Ryegate Centre plays a huge part in Tobias’s ongoing care. He has visited regularly since he was less than a year old, seeing a range of therapists and consultants who endeavour to help Tobias progress as much as possible.

“It is quite overwhelming to know that Tobias has raised money that will, potentially, change the lives of other children.”

More details about The Children’s Hospital Charity are available at https://www.tchc.org.uk/

Tobias’s fundraising efforts have also benefited his school – Paces School in Sheffield, which is a specialist centre for people with cerebral palsy and motor disorders.