Captain Tom Moore inspires ex-rugby league player Jimmy Gittins' latest charity feat

Former rugby league player Jimmy Gittins has completed an epic walk for charity - around his Wakefield home.

Jimmy Gittins. OPixcture courtesy of Jimmy Gittins.

The ex-Wakefield Trinity and Dewsbury Rams man was paralised when his neck was broken in two places during a game for amateur club Sharlston Rovers in 2002.

Inspired by Captain Tom Moore, the Yorkshire-born veteran who raised £28m for NHS charities by walking 100 laps of his garden before he celebrates his centenary this week, Gittins completed 26 laps around his house as part of the 2.6 Challenge.

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That is a fund-raising drive to help charities recover some of the vital income lost when the London Marathon was cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Gittins, 46, began his walk on Saturday morning and finished the following day.

He said: “I took it steadily away and just knocked off the laps.

“Obviously I was stopping in between because I physically can’t do it, it was slow going and I think at one point a snail passed me as I was going round the back corner!

“You just get your head down and chug on.”

Since his accident Gittins has defied the odds - and medical opinion - by learning to walk, becoming a father and taking part in adventures including a skydive from 15,000 feet, but he admitted his latest feat was, literally, a step in the dark.

“My distance in walking is quite minimal and it’s quite difficult if I have to change direction,” Gittins explained.

“Walking around the house you’re kind of going in one direction and you’re not turning left or right.

“If I get out of my car to walk to my front door I am all right with that.

“If I go for my treatment I can get out of my car and walk in, but anything out of that is hard - different levels, like steps or different gradients or different textures.

“A bit of rain completely messes me up because my crutches go elsewhere.

“Distance-wise, the maximum I have probably walked for is five or six minutes.

“Wherever I’ve gone, that’s probably as long as I’ve had to walk to get from A-B.

“Each lap took, on average, between 12 and 15 minutes and I kind of planned the route and just went at it.

“It was as much of a test to see if I could do it and if I could get round without any complications.”

Gittins exertions took their toll, He admitted: “I’ll be brutally honest, I am in bits.

“Normally after this I’d go up to the gym and the physios would put me back together, but we are in isolation so I can’t do that.

“I am taking paracetamol, plenty of liquids and I’ll probably have a couple of days of tightness and soreness.”

Money raised through Gittins’ walk will go to the Steve Prescott Foundation and State of Mind Sport.

“They are both great causes,” he said.

“I am sure Captain Tom Moore has inspired most of the country, if not worldwide.

“I loved the idea of such a simple thing and a guy thinking I’m going to go out and do something for the NHS.

“[Sunday] should have been the London Marathon and I did it as part of the 2.6 challenge to help these charities, because when this thing lifts they need to be supported so they can help other people.

“That was the idea behind it, but I certainly got inspiration from Captain Tom Moore - I took my hat off to him like everyone did.

“I think he is amazing.”

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