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Firefighter Takes on London Marathon in Full 20 kg Gear

Photo: JustGiving

Matt Hooper, a 48-year-old firefighter from Emmer Green, is set to challenge himself by running the London Marathon in his complete firefighter gear, all for a charitable cause.

Next month, he will participate in the marathon to support Team Charlie, a charity founded in honor of Charlie Ilsley, a 13-year-old boy from Emmer Green who passed away from cancer in 2020. The charity, established by Charlie’s mother, Toni Ilsley, focuses on raising funds for children battling brain tumors.

Hooper, who serves as a firefighter in Slough and works as a strength coach, was inspired to contribute to the cause following a reunion with Mrs. Ilsley.

“My eldest son Max and Charlie were in the same classes at primary school and were good friends. However, this fundraising idea came about when we took our vizsla Lola to Charlie’s Dog Place in Sonning Common, where we spoke to Toni,” he said according to Henley Standard.

“We started chatting generally and then got on to running as Toni and I are both keen runners. Once or twice a year I tend to do something a bit out there in order to raise money for smaller charities and that’s when the idea was born. I have done Ironmans and marathons and I always think, ‘What can I do that is different to make my plans charity-worthy?'”

Previously, Hooper and his colleague, Scott Butler, embarked on a unique fundraising adventure by cycling 1,000 miles through Uganda and Tanzania on homemade bamboo bicycles. Their efforts benefited a Ugandan charity dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities for children.

Having joined the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service in 2019, Hooper completed his first London Marathon last year.

For this year’s marathon, he plans to endure the 26-mile race donning his full firefighting attire, including a breathing apparatus, helmet, heat-resistant trousers, and a tunic, cumulatively weighing approximately 20kg. His wife Wendy, who is also a strength coach and runs LifeStrong Belles, a kettlebell club for women, along with their sons Max, 16, and Nate, 12, will be there to support him.

In preparation for the marathon, Hooper has been training by running in parts of his firefighter gear to acclimate to the additional weight and heat.

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