A Royal Air Force veteran and Invictus Games athlete with a spine and shoulder injury has cycled 1,257 miles for charity - a mile each for every NHS hospital in the UK.
Inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore to raise funds for NHS Charities Together, Darren Young completed this personal task in March 2021, after witnessing on the frontline how hard the blue light services have been working over the last 12 months at St Georges Hospital in Stafford.
His target was to raise £1,257 - a pound for each mile cycled - which he exceeded, having raised £1500 in total.
Darren suffered back complaints during his RAF career as a firefighter in 1996, then, following a football match in Malta, had six different operations to repair the damage.
Despite still feeling much discomfort, Darren was determined to commit to cycling a mile for each NHS hospital in the UK and has received celebrity support from the likes of Harry Redknapp and Mike Bushell.
Speaking to BFBS, the forces station broadcaster Jess Bracey before the epic cycle, he said:
“When I was working in that environment I wanted to do more for the nurses and the doctors because I could see just how hard they were working.
“I started to think about my injuries and whether I would be able to last on my bike, would my neck hold up.
“But that’s what it’s all about; putting yourself through personal pain to try and create something for other people
“For the first seven days, I have never felt so much pain of saddle sore in my life.”
Competing in athletics and sitting volleyball during the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, Darren’s driven spirit is evident.
“Captain Sir Tom Moore proved that if you put your mind to anything, you can achieve anything.
“I climbed Kilimanjaro in 2019 with James Rose who has no legs because he was blown up in Afghanistan.
“This proves that you can do things and it’s all a mindset.
“I suffer from clinical depression and this challenge is helping me because I now have a purpose to get out of bed.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the doctors, the nurses, the porters, the cleaners, everyone who is working in the NHS as well as the care homes.
“Everyone around the country is working extremely hard, so this is about raising funds and raising awareness about how good our country is for providing these services.”
Presenter Jess, currently broadcasting for BFBS from Bahrain, joined Darren virtually for 30 miles of the 1,257-mile charity cycle.
To donate head to his JustGiving Page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/milesforhospitals