He did it! Blind gardener Tony runs 10 miles for Thrive


Tony and guide runner Sharon from Hatch Warren Runners after the race
Blind gardener Tony Nicholls has fulfilled one of his lifelong ambitions to run a competitive race and raise money for Thrive.

Tony took part in the 10-mile Great South Run held in Portsmouth in October and his JustGiving page has reached more than £1,400!

Training for a charity run is never easy; it takes determination, strength and commitment.

But for Tony it was even more of a challenge as he couldn't just go for a training run when he wanted so had to rely on others to help him and guide him.

Step in Hatch Warren Runners whose members have been helping 41-year-old Tony train every week for almost a year. And they have been so impressed by his commitment and determination that he is a fully fledged member of the group!
Tony, who has been blind since birth and has a learning difficulty, said: "I've wanted to do something for Thrive for a long time and now I am so pleased that I have been able to do this.

"I really enjoyed the run and loved hearing everyone shout my name. I do the Parkruns every weekend in Basingstoke where I live and I want to do the Basingstoke half marathon."

Tony has been gardening with Thrive for 11 years and lives in a shared house in Basingstoke. His caring family help him a lot and arrange support in the house and outside so that he can live as independent a life as possible.

Tony enjoys keeping fit and being busy and as well as gardening has been going to the gym for many years. Last year his stepmum Lindsey was given a leaflet advertising a trial run for the Visually Impaired at Basingstoke Parkrun.

From there he started running every week with the help and support of Richard Pickard, Sharon Le Roy (pictured) and a team of other keen runners who guide him on runs each week.

Richard said Tony is guided by either a tether and lots of talking or sometimes guides will hold his arm. He said helping people in this way allows fervent runners to give something back.

He said: "In late 2015 we formed a local guide running group in the Basingstoke area, with the aim of supporting visually impaired runners (or potential runners) in the local community.  

"Tony has been running the weekly 5km Basingstoke Parkrun since we started the group.  He's incredibly motivated, loves running and is always keen to progress further."

Tony did the run in 2hrs 2min 55s - an incredible achievement!

Click here for the interview Tony did with the RNIB on Connect Radio.