Brentwood record-breaker recognised by PM for charity efforts

Andrew Cappaert

Alex Gibson (second from right) last year on the pedalo challenge. - Credit: Andrew Cappaert

When a Brentwood dad-of-two was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2018, he set up charity Challenging MND.

Now prime minister Boris Johnson has sent Alex Gibson a personalised message in recognition of his effort.

As a former decathlete, rugby player and nutritionist, Alex found it hard to understand his diagnosis.

"The tragic news hit me at a most unexpected time in my life: I was on top of my game at work, with family life and my health.  Being told that I will have the same fate as Stephen Hawking, when I had everything to live for, was utterly devastating.  

"How could this have happened to me, to my family?"

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"But once you’ve accepted your fate, you can then face the future with confidence and move on with the new type of life you've been given.  

"Having been an athlete, making the most of the time I had left with a functioning body, with my family and friends around me was key.  

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"I wanted to create unforgettable experiences that would stay with me and my family long after my body had failed.  And this intention had never been stronger. "

"Taking charge of my mental attitude literally saved me.  

"I knew I would need a great deal of fortitude to deal with MND, as would my family, so I started working on this.  

"Rather than consider the disease as a dead weight around my ankles, I now look at it as an opportunity to do something meaningful for myself and others.  It is a positive challenge which I plan to tackle head-on."

Now, three years later through gruelling endurance challenges, breaking a world record by navigating the Thames in a pedalo boat last summer, Alex has so far raised over £170,000. The money goes towards helping other people living with MND to experience their own memorable challenges, and ensuring they can maintain an active lifestyle for as long as they are able.

In recognition of his hard work, the MP wrote a letter to Alex, saying: “Thank you for all that you are doing through Challenging MND to support people living with motor neurone disease.

“Your record-breaking feats of fortitude have inspired others to give generously to your charity and those donations will give the gift of memories through days out and special experiences.”

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