Visually impaired Henshaws student takes on 10km fundraising run

Henshaws Specialist College student Tom is running the Melmerby 10km run this May to raise money for new gym equipment at College. He explains why he wanted to take up the challenge and raise money to help more young people with disabilities to access exercise.

“I started running 2 years ago when I was on holiday with my family. Our caravan park was right next to the river and I enjoyed running along it with my dad. I found that running was a good distraction when there was a lot going on in my life at home. It was good to get out in the fresh air. It helped me to deal with how I felt. I also felt like it was the best way to support my family at this time.

Watch a video of Tom talking about his challenge below:

I did my first parkrun last year and since then I’ve completed over 40 parkruns. My local one is at Fountains Abbey near Ripon. There are a range of people and even their dogs that come and run 5km there every Saturday morning. I have a visual impairment so I run with my mum nearby. I can run by myself but if there are any hazards ahead she links on to my arm to guide me safely around them. I also find it quite difficult to see in bright sunshine. After each run we all go for tea and cake at the café.


Tom with his mum and group of runners

I think it’s very important to give something back to people who have more disabilities than me. So when we were on holiday a few months ago I came up with the challenge of training for a 10k run to raise money for Henshaws.

Henshaws have been brilliant with me. The staff at college are a friendly lot; they understand me and know me really well. I am learning how to live and travel independently there as well as doing enterprise which I really enjoy. Henshaws Disability Support Services team have helped me to work on my fitness to get ready for the run. Every week I do a spinning class, go swimming and practice my running.

Student Tom standing next to Motomed machine in the college gym

Vicky, one of the college instructors has also been going running with me every Friday lunchtime. We do a few laps of college and then run up to the post box near Starbeck and back. Vicky supports me by guiding me as we run together. She always pushes me to do the best that I can. Afterwards I feel tired but happy.

Motomed bike in the college gymI started researching physiotherapy as it’s something I’m really interested in. I’m hoping to do work experience in this area. From talking to our physio team at college I learnt about a piece of equipment called a MOTOmed. This is a special bike that helps people with physical disabilities to enjoy exercise. It has a computer which measures tension and a motor to help a person’s legs go round. I decided that I’d like any money I raise to go towards buying this piece of kit to help more of our students to access the gym.

I love running. I’ve lost weight, I’ve gained confidence and I am proud to be doing something to help students who might not be as lucky as I am.”

Tom will be taking part in the Melmerby 10km Run near Ripon, North Yorkshire at 11.30am on Sunday 29th May. Please support Tom’s challenge by visiting hisfundraising page

Tom was recently interviewed by Stray fm talking about his challenge. You can hear the interview on their website below

Listen to Tom's interview

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