Heartbreaking tragedy inspires epic charity challenge for Sheffield man Tony

Tony Hadfield with his grandsons Toby, 21 months, Noah, three, and Joshua, four

Tony Hadfield with his grandsons Toby, 21 months, Noah, three, and Joshua, four

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A brave multiple sclerosis sufferer will walk the length of Britain for charity – inspired by his childhood sweetheart, who died a year ago.

Former marathon runner Tony Hadfield, aged 49, hopes to raise £10,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre in Catcliffe, Rotherham in memory of his wife, Tina Herft.

Tony Hadfield and his late wife, Tina Herft, on their wedding day last year

Tony Hadfield and his late wife, Tina Herft, on their wedding day last year

Tony met Tina at school, but they didn’t cross paths again until they were middle aged.

Tony, a grandfather, said: “She toured the world as a professional dancer but came back to Sheffield to do charity work for cancer research. I got her phone number from an old friend and we met up. We were engaged a year later.”

In a tragic turn of events, Tina died aged 47 from bowel cancer, just four weeks after the couple’s wedding day. A month after Tina died, Tony was diagnosed with MS.

Tony, of Beauchief, said: “Tina was an inspirational woman. She still went to work, even when she was too ill to walk.

“If Tina was still here I wouldn’t even be doing this walk, because I adored her and wouldn’t have left her for more than a few days.”

Tony will begin his walk on July 28 at John O’Groats, Scotland. The walk will take around 10 weeks, and he will finish at Land’s End, Cornwall. He is hoping hotels will donate rooms for him to stay in along the way.

Tony has previously raised money for the Rotherham MS Therapy Centre as a marathon runner, with his brother also having suffered with MS for 15 years.

“They need over £100,000 a year, and they don’t get government funding,” said Tony.

Despite Tony’s worsening symptoms, he will walk the equivalent of a half marathon everyday.

He said: “I’m getting quite clumsy and my balance is terrible. It can be hard to deal with because the symptoms change from day to day. But I’m just getting on with it. Tina is my inspiration.”

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of Tina’s death. Donate at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Tony-Hadfield