Stars take on a fitness marathon for Newcastle children's heart unit

TV host Ben Shephard and former Newcastle Falcons rugby player Tom May took part in a tough exercise challenge

Ben Shephard and Tom May took part in the Speedflex challenge with Ivan Hollingsworth
Ben Shephard and Tom May took part in the Speedflex challenge with Ivan Hollingsworth

TV presenter Ben Shephard and former Newcastle Falcons rugby player Tom May have been helping to raise money for a children’s heart unit by taking part in a marathon exercise challenge.

Yesterday, the pair tried to burn 10,000 calories each by working out on high intensity Speedflex machines at Drake House, Fleming Business Centre, in Jesmond, Newcastle.

They were wearing heart monitors which recorded how many calories they were burning on a television screen. The pair were joined by fundraising father Ivan Hollingsworth, who has completed his target of raising £330,000 to build a new playroom for the Children’s a Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital (CHUF).

 

Ivan has worked tirelessly to raise funds for the charity. In 2009 the Newcastle hospital saved the life of his son Sebastian, who celebrated his fifth birthday last week. Ivan and his wife Nadine have vowed to raise cash for the unit ever since.

The couple decided to set up a fund – Seb4Chuf – and have now hit their target to pay for the modern play facility for the young patients, some of whom spend months in the unit. It is expected that the ground-breaking for the facility will be held this month and the state-of-the-art premises will be completed later this year.

Yesterday’s mammoth exercise challenge was held to celebrate this achievement. The three participants started their challenge at 7am and worked out continuously all day with small 15-minute breaks every hour.

Ben said: “I’ve known Ivan since we were children and I’m now used to him calling me up to join him on challenges ranging from the unusual to the extreme. I am a father myself and I can only imagine how hard it has been for Ivan and his wife Nadine to cope with their little boy undergoing complicated heart surgery. I am also an ambassador for Speedflex so the chance to come and try it for myself and see what we can achieve burning 10,000 calories and at the same time help to raise funds was unmissable for me.”

 

Ivan, 38, from Monkseaton, Whitley Bay, said: “Any pain we endured during this time was insignificant compared to what heart children deal with every single day. If you think our pain, sweat and tears warrant a small donation we will be eternally thankful.” To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/10000calories4chuf

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