A pensioner who has spent almost four decades supporting children’s athletics has overcome his own running challenge as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Dennis Gill, 72, from Liverpool, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease seven years ago, completed a marathon by running more than 1,000 laps around his garden in Crosby.
The former coach at Southport Waterloo Athletics Club ran 1km every day for 37 days – finishing his personal challenge five days ahead of schedule and raising more than £12,000 for Parkinson’s UK.
His achievement was even more impressive because his illness had previously put a stop to a 40-year running career which saw him complete 20 marathons and countless club and community races.
In the early 1980s, Dennis helped set up the Crosby and District Primary Schools races with the support of Great Crosby Catholic Primary School (then St Peter and Paul’s).
He went on to become the team manager for Sefton schools in the Merseyside Youth Games while coaching thousands of athletes at Southport and Waterloo – some of whom went on to compete at national and international level.
In more recent years, he has supported young athletes as a volunteer coach at Sacred Heart Catholic College, St Michael’s CE High School and Formby High School.
The £12,300 that Dennis has raised will go towards an emergency appeal by Parkinson’s UK which must raise £95,000 every week to continue delivering critical support to the Parkinson’s community.
Dennis said: “Since my diagnosis with Parkinson’s I have found walking a challenge at times, let alone running. But when the lockdown started, I was determined to try something to improve my fitness and strength so decided to measure out a short course in the garden.
“I’ve been a bit unsteady on my feet in recent years, but running on grass felt really safe and I was surprised how I improved over the first couple of weeks.
“I’ve been so moved by the support and encouragement I’ve had from everyone – it really helped me keep going on the days when I was finding it really tough.”