RAF Leeming station magazine article, 15 November 2013.
FORMER REGIMENT GUNNER WILL KEEP PUSHING FOR CHARITY CASH
A former member of 34 Sqn RAF Regiment has completed his second 500-mile wheelchair push, but is going to keep going as long as the charities he supports need cash.
Sean Allerton, 48, was left a tetraplegic when he broke his neck in a motorcycle accident which happened when he was serving with the Squadron, now based at RAF Leeming, in Cyprus almost twenty years ago.
Although changed forever by the events of that night, Sean has been able to build a new life in his own home thanks to his personal determination and the support of various charities such as the RAF Benevolent Fund and the Royal Air Forces Association. The keen fencer is studying for an Open University degree and, in 2011, learned to fly thanks to a Flying Scholarships for Disabled People scholarship.
Inspired by The Proclaimers song ‘500 miles’, Sean initially decided to push 500 miles unaided in one of his everyday wheelchairs.- a task he achieved in sessions at various RAF bases across the UK in ten months. Spurred on by his success, Sean pushed ‘500 more’ in just five months thanks to a fantastic British summer.
Not content to leave it there, Sean immediately embarked on yet another challenge – this time aiming to top 1,000 miles. He said: “At one point I managed to do 112 miles over 4 nights at RAF Church Fenton. It’s all about setting the rhythm and you just keep going. I don’t get bored because I usually see lots of wildlife.”
“There are 8,000 miles in The Proclaimers’ song and while I can’t promise to do all 8,000, I will keep going while the charities need money and I have got my health. The charities have been life changing – help from them has really facilitated my life.”
Sean was joined for stretches of his journey by personnel from across Station, including members of his old Squadron – 34 Squadron RAF Regiment, 609(WR) Auxiliary Squadron, RAF Leeming Station Commander, Group Captain Steve Reeves, and 100 Sqn Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Tony Cann, who got to know Sean through his assessor role with Flying Scholarships for Disabled People. Some of the guys even covered the ground using Sean’s spare wheelchair, so that they could really understand his experience.
Sqn Ldr Jeff Metcalfe, Officer Commanding 609(WR) Aux Sqn said: “It was fantastic to get Sean here to cover a few miles. I pushed alongside him for a while and just couldn’t keep up! It was incredibly difficult to even stay in a straight line. Some of the ground may look flat when you walk, but isn’t when you’re trying to push a wheelchair!”