An inspirational local man, whose parents were warned at birth he’d never walk or talk, cut the ribbon at this year’s Race for Equality.
Alan Wilkinson, 43, from Ringwood, who has learning difficulties, was one of more than 100 competitors at the annual event on September 29. It was organised by local charity Access Dorset to raise funds to improve local services and encourage everyone to take regular exercise.
“Alan is an inspiration to our members,” says organiser Jonathan Waddington-Jones. “Having been born three months premature, he had to contend with curvature of the spine and other severe complaints. Race for Equality has inspired a whole new lease of life. Since taking part in our second race last year Alan has joined a gym and taken up athletics.
“Exercise is important for everyone – including disabled people and I hope Alan’s story will inspire others. We were delighted that he was able to join us and to cut the ribbon to start the event.”
Alan was joined at the race by numerous friends from the Stable Family Home Trust in Ringwood.
He said: “I enjoy the training and love getting a medal at the end of the race.”
His father Alan adds: “The Race for Equality has made a radical difference to Alan. Before that he didn’t do much exercise at all – now he’s in the gym three times a week and he runs regularly. His asthma has improved, he’s grown in confidence and he’s lost almost four stone.
“It’s amazing to think that through sport he has found such independence and joy. He’s proved such a hit at Ringwood Sports Centre that they’ve even given him a part time job in the gym.”
The event, which was sponsored by Synergy Housing, included a 3km or 5km walk, run, cycle or wheel from Bournemouth to Southbourne and back. Thousands of pounds was raised for Access Dorset and will help fund information, advice and support to disabled and older people in the county.