Support gives Phil a lift on hometown leg of run
THERE were hugs all round as relentless runner Phil Newman strode into Bristol.
The 52-year-old is jogging up to 40 miles every day on his charity challenge from John O'Groats to Land's End.
And as he ran through his home city, along the A38, he was greeted by family and members of the Special Friends Club he is raising money for.
There were cheers of "Go on Phil!" as he powered along Bridgwater Road in Bedminster Down and into the arms of his sister Ann Taylor.
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Handshakes, hugs and pats on the back followed before he continued on into Somerset.
Talking of the warm reception, Phil, from Kingswood, said: "It's absolutely amazing. Seeing everyone here really chokes you up. It makes all the suffering worthwhile."
Phil's challenge of running the route of about 1,000 miles has been harder than he ever imagined after his support driver pulled out on the eve of the run.
As a result, he was forced to soldier on through Scotland carrying all of his kit and supplies on his back in a pack weighing about 50lb.
In freezing temperatures he would wake up with ice on his tent and one night ended up sleeping in a barn.
By day 23, his partner Jackie Lewis had joined him as the support driver, following him in a van, and by day 26 he had made it to Bristol.
Phil's daughter Laura, 17, said: "I think he's a bit of a nutter doing something like this but I'm very proud of him."
Charity trustee Sophie Axford said: "We are all really inspired by Phil and so proud of what he's doing and what he's endured for the charity.
"The awareness he's raised by doing this challenge has been fantastic.
"All of the trustees are parents of children with disabilities. My 15-year-old son Billy, who has autism, has been closely following Phil's progress every day. He's been so excited."
One of the youngsters helped by the charity is Joseph Britton.
The 15-year-old, from Mangotsfield, was also on Bedminster Down to cheer Phil on.
"I think Phil has been really good," he said.
The Special Friends Club operates in Bristol and South Gloucestershire and is run by parent volunteers.
It provides support by organising a wide range of activities and opportunities for families and children affected by a broad range of disabilities.
Martial arts instructor Phil, of Grace Drive, chose the charity because one of his partner Jackie's children, 12-year-old Kyran, has severe autism.
He may fall just short of his 28-day target to finish the run – but could still complete the gruelling journey within the calendar month.
To donate to the cause, visit www.charitygiving.co.uk/philruns1000. For more information about the charity, visit www.specialfriendsclub.org.uk.