Date of release: 14 May 2020
A judo expert who says The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust has saved his life three times has completed his latest fundraising effort for the organisation – by scaling the equivalent of Snowdon from his home to raise over £1,300.
Kevin O’Reilly, one of the senior coaches at Wolverhampton Judo Club, took on the ‘climb-a-thon’ to walk up and down his stairs at home, in Coppice Farm, Willenhall, 271 times, an ascent of 1,085 metres – the height of the highest mountain in Wales – to raise money for The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust Charity. The gruelling challenge took the 59-year-old one hour, 54 minutes and 40 seconds.
Trust Fundraising Champion Kevin O'Reilly with his laptop count of flights of stairs to a virtual Snowdon
“I’ve always done things that are a bit of a challenge and I like to set myself goals. A friend of mine who is ex-military and trains cadets gave me the idea after some of my work colleagues climbed Snowdon last year,” said Kevin, who works as a Technical and Operations Director for Securefast, a firm based in Cannock that manufactures and distributes electronic security products for business and commercial premises.
Kevin had a package installed on his laptop to count the number of flights, so after each descent, he would hit ‘enter’ to register another flight climbed. His only company was the odd swig of water to keep refreshed and his MP3 player, while his wife Barbara videoed him to upload to Facebook to show to his supporters. “I was getting comments on Facebook as I was doing it such as ‘Is there a pub halfway up?’ and many messages of support which kept me going,” he said. “My legs felt it after 10 flights but eventually your body gets into a momentum. After completing the challenge my top was soaked with sweat and I noticed I had lost three pounds in weight! It took my legs five or six days to recover.”
Kevin, who was voted the Trust’s Fundraising Champion of the Year for 2019, admits he owes his life to the organisation after overcoming cancer, pneumonia and injuries in a road accident. Last year, he was unable to join his work colleagues in climbing Snowdon for charity due to recovering from pneumonia, so he decided to cover the distance of the North Wales peak from home during lockdown.
So far, Kevin’s climb-a-thon has raised over £1,300 and donations can still be made by visiting the Just Giving pageKevin and the club have raised over £21,000 in the last six years for the Trust’s Charity through events including a 12-hour ‘throw-a-thon’, youngsters performing judo throws for one minute, a bag pack at Sainsbury’s, raffles and an auction. This money has helped the Cancer Unit, Children’s Ward, Orthopaedic Unit and Dementia Unit. This year, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, visiting patients is not permitted in virtually all areas of the Trust, so the donations have helped provide snacks, reading materials and entertainment for patients, and for staff, overnight bags and furniture for rest rooms.
As an eight-year-old, Kevin suffered a fractured skull and broken collarbone in a road traffic accident and was unconscious for three days, spending three weeks in hospital. In 2012 he was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus and had to have it removed, spending a month in hospital. Then last year he was admitted again, this time with pneumonia. But each time he has made a full recovery and wanted to give something back.
“The Trust has saved my life three times,” said Kevin, a fifth Dan black belt who competed in judo for Great Britain at 17 and is also director and secretary at Wolverhampton Judo Club. “Over the past seven or eight years, as I’ve got fitter, I’ve wanted to raise money for the hospital. With the help of colleagues from judo, we’ve raised over £21,000.”
Notes to Editor