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James takes on the virtual London Marathon to support adults with autism and his own weight loss journey

James Baker, Area Support Manager at national learning disability charity Hft, took on the huge challenge of the virtual London Marathon last Sunday to raise vital funds for a new sensory room and simultaneously maintain his significant weight loss.

James re-joined Hft in January this year at their Gloucestershire service, having previously worked as a Registered Cluster Manager in Bristol. On his return, James knew he wanted to support the work Hft does in more ways than one and contacted the fundraising team to see how he could help the charity.

Having already signed up for a triathlon in May, James then found out about all the other events available and was keen to take on one of the biggest sporting challenges – the virtual London Marathon.

The virtual TCS London Marathon offers an opportunity for runners to complete the 26.2 miles however and wherever they like on Marathon Day. It gives people the freedom to choose their own route and complete the run at any time between 00:00 and 23:59 on the same day as the mass event in London.

James’ main motivation for undertaking the marathon is to maintain his weight loss surgery that took place in September last year. He lost 12 stone and has chosen this particular challenge in an effort to maintain his progress and stay active.

He shares more on his journey:

“I have scheduled in one challenge each month until the end of the year. The main motivation behind this is my weight loss surgery; I went from 531 to 355lbs and want to use challenges like the virtual marathon to get me active and excited about doing exercise.

“The training has been hard as running is not something I have done a lot of in the past and I’ve had to adapt my training plan that was initially geared up to the triathlon in May.”

James has already raised over £200 for Hft which will go towards funding a sensory room for the four autistic adults supported at a Hft service in Gloucestershire. Sensory rooms are specially designed to help individuals develop and engage their senses, combining sound, light, colour and other stimuli to support this.

James continues, “The addition of the sensory room at our service will enhance sensory integration and allow the four adults to be supported in a way that might help in reducing anxieties.”

Emma Macdonald, Community Fundraising Manager at Hft, added:

“James first contacted me in February to see if there were any challenges that could support him to get fit and maintain a healthy weight loss. The virtual marathon seemed like a perfect challenge for him and his commitment to the training is incredible.

“Not only is it a personal triumph for James, but also a massive help to the service in Gloucestershire and the people we support. The addition of a sensory room will further enhance our support and continue to encourage great outcomes of the people we support.”

If you would like to support James and help him reach his target of £1,000, please visit his JustGiving page.