Sheffield student with coeliac disease hiking 50k in just a week to raise awareness of disease

“It is not known enough about,” says a Sheffield student who is going the extra mile to raise awareness of a disease that affects one in 100 people.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 12:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 4:03 pm
"My entire life it has been something I have known about," says Jack whose Dad also suffers from Coeliac disease.

People across the country have been supporting the #ShineALightOnCoeliac campaign during Coeliac UK’s Awareness Week, which took place last week.

Here in Sheffield, a university student who was diagnosed with the disease in 2019 is hoping to hike 50km by the end of the week, raising money and awareness in the meantime.

Jack Thompson, who studies politics at the University of Sheffield, said: "When I read about it helping newly-diagnosed kids who also have coeliac disease I thought it’s a good opportunity to do something and raise awareness.

"My dad was diagnosed in 2000, so my entire life it has been something I have known about, but I have only been diagnosed two years ago,” said Jack, who added that many people get misdiagnosed, something that can lead to ‘lasting damage’.

“It is different from an allergy or intolerance, because it is an auto-immune disease it attacks your intestines and leave leave longer lasting damage.

"When I first got diagnosed they said it could take up to a year for your intestines to fully heal from years of your life eaten gluten.”

Originally planning on running the distance, he suffered an injury recently, so he will finish the 50km as a hike this week across Sheffield, and will be measured via the app Strava.

The money donated will go directly to Coeliac UK, who help ‘raise awareness that Coeliac exists’ after many people spend a lifetime not knowing they have the disease despite one in 100 suffering.

Jack currently has a fundraising target of £50, which would cover the cost of Coeliac UK’s Food Policy team for an hour, allowing them to provide guidance to parents, schools and hospitals about how to prepare and provide safe gluten free food.

"It is not known enough about in my opinion. There is probably hundreds of thousands of people in the UK alone who haven’t been diagnosed and have it.

"This is what it is all about, shining a light on coeliac week to really inform people about what’s necessary.

"This week is more about school and raising awareness for kids in schools. It is all about telling people what to do, how to help people, and raising awareness that it exists and it is not just an intolerance or an allergy.”

To find out more or donate, visit Coeliac UK online.