A determined student is taking time out of training for his first official half marathon to get on a bike to support his specialist college’s charity challenge.

Derwen College Horticulture student, and keen runner, Harry West will be swapping wellies for trainers to take part in the college’s second annual Spin Along Spinathon from 24–25 March.

He has pledged to pedal for a phenomenal eight hours to support sports coordinators Steve Evans and Sian Thomas, who will be spinning for a gruelling 24 hours. The 20-year-old, from Buckinghamshire, will be splitting his time into three stints through the day and night and has already raised an amazing £1000 for Derwen Charity.

Harry will be interrupting training for his first ever competitive half marathon, in Redditch, which he’ll be running on 18 June.

Harry, who is autistic and has learning and communication difficulties, has excelled in sport since starting at the specialist college, in Gobowen, near Oswestry. He started taking short runs around campus with sports coordinator Steve and has gradually increased training and distance.

Steve says: “Since he’s been at Derwen, Harry displayed a clear passion for sport and always engaged with enthusiasm.  It appeared that running and the prospect of entering races was a real motivator.  Harry entered the Welshpool 10k in March last year and completed it in 1 hour 6 mins. Based on this success and Harry’s appetite for running we started training for a half marathon. He has managed a half marathon distance around Lake Vyrnwy and loved the experience, so we’ve signed up for his first official half marathon in June.”

Harry’s dad, Ed, said:

“At the end of the Lake Vyrnwy run, we were quite emotional watching Steve as he put his hands on Harry’s shoulders, looked him in the eye, and said ‘Well done, you’ve achieved even more than we expected’. I’ve never run a half marathon before, so Harry and Steve have inspired me to do this and Steve has signed us both up to do it.”

Harry admits that: “I like running more than spinning”, so Sian and Steve are particularly grateful that he has volunteered to be part of the Spinathon team.

Each person taking part in the Derwen Charity Spin Along Spinathon will be embarking on their own personal challenge; some have never been on spin bike and will be aiming to spin for up to an hour, others have committed to far longer sessions on the bike. Their aim is to raise funds and lend some moral support to Sian and Steve. Money raised from the challenge will go towards new accessible sports changing room facilities which will benefit students and the community.

The event has received sponsorship from Oswestry School, Bridge Coffee, Coach House Fitness, Active8 Gym, Planet Doors, Tanat Valley Coaches, Shropshire Design & Print and Co-op.

Find out more and pledge your support for Harry and the team at www.derwen.me/HarrySpinathon. Or text SPINATHON and your donation (eg SPINATHON 10) to 70085.