A Swansea charity champion who became the first man to circumnavigate Great Britain on a mobility scooter – accompanied by two cats – has thanked shoppers at the city’s busy Quadrant Shopping Centre for boosting his fundraising efforts.
Mark Newton, 48, finished his mammoth 596-day trek after collecting an amazing £40,000 plus with two days at the Quadrant with a final collection from generous shoppers.
His mammoth charity effort is being split between five charities, Help for Heroes, the Royal British Legion, SSAFA (Soldiers‘, Sailors’, and Airmen’s Families Association), The Queen’s Dragoon Guards’ Benevolent Fund and RNLI Lifeboats.
Next up for the dedicated ex-soldier is another colossal challenge, a tour of as many British war graves and memorials as possible – there are more than 366,000 of them.
He said: “I’ve had it confirmed that I’m the first person to go right around Great Britain on a mobility scooter, especially with two cats. I have a trailer which I tow behind the scooter.
“The cats, Smudge, who is 11, and Miffy, who is two-and-a-half, get to travel in style, warm and dry while I get to be cold and very often soaked to the skin.
“It was an amazing journey and the money is still coming in. It’s more than £40,000 now along with gift aid. I’m registered disabled following an injury I suffered when serving with the Queen’s Dragoon Guards in 1991.
“I was doing a PT session and found a hole in the field. My foot went in it and my leg hyper-extended. That caused it to smash. I then managed to contract septicaemia and lost all the feeling in my right leg.
“That resulted in me being signed off as unfit for work by the War Pensions Office. Unfortunately I also suffer from bouts of severe depression too.”
Mark, who joined the Army in April 1985 before being forced to retire in January 1992, says he just decided to try and raise funds for charity by doing something a bit ‘mental’.
He said: “I came up with the idea of going around Britain on a mobility scooter. I used the trailer to sleep in. The problem is my cats; Smudge is terrible if I leave him for any length of time. He makes himself ill and won’t eat if I leave him for more than a day.
“So I decided to take them both with me. I’ve been to some amazing places and met some wonderful people. For every idiot I’ve come in contact with I’ve met hundreds of lovely people.
“The Celts are by far the most generous and I collected more in Wales and Scotland than anywhere else. I decided to support three charities that have helped me as well as Help for Heroes and the RNLI Lifeboats. You never know when you might need rescuing.”
Ian Kirkpatrick, Manager of the Quadrant Shopping Centre, and a former soldier himself, said: “Mark has shown incredible determination to make this astonishing journey and he is supporting some very worthy charities.
“We do always do our best here at the Quadrant to support local charity efforts and we were delighted to welcome Mark here.”
Mark added: “The worst part of the journey was probably the west of Scotland which was really all up and down hill, although Devon and Cornwall aren’t easy either. I stayed in some very strange places from miniature railways to Britain’s only halibut farm.
“It’s always a case of wherever I can plug in and recharge the mobility scooter really. Very few places knocked me back but there were a few. More often than not everyone was really kind and I met some fantastic people.”
Now divorced Mark, who has two adult children, is all set for his next challenge which he hopes to start on January 2.
He said: “The task is to visit as many war graves and memorials as I can. I’m going to do it county by county starting in Wiltshire. I’ve no idea how long it is going to take but I’ll be collecting for my charities as I go.
“I did a few talks to schools as I did the around Britain tour and I will be doing the same as I go around the war memorials too.”
He added: “I spent a cracking two days at the Quadrant, people were so generous and really gave my fundraising a real boost. The management of the Quadrant have been fantastic and very supportive.
“It was a great way to end the around Great Britain challenge and a good way to kick-start the new challenge.”
For more information on Mark’s ‘Around Britain on a mobility scooter with two cats’ challenge visit www.aroundbritain.org.uk
For more information about the Quadrant Shopping Centre visit www.quadrantshopping.co.uk