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Hills Road Sixth Form College rugby captain Will Garner takes on herculean press-up challenge for Mind

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Hills Road Sixth Form College student Will Garner is doing a press up challenge for Mind . Picture: Keith Heppell
Hills Road Sixth Form College student Will Garner is doing a press up challenge for Mind . Picture: Keith Heppell

A herculean press-up challenge to raise money for Mind is being undertaken by the Hills Road Sixth Form College rugby captain.

When the second national lockdown was announced, Will Garner, 17, made the decision to use it productively to help others.

During the first lockdown, Will, inspired by the efforts of Captain Tom Moore, rowed 100km on an indoor rowing machine over five days to raise £900 for NHS Charities Together.

Despite that impressive feat, his new challenge is far tougher – 5,691 press-ups in 30 days.

“I decided I was going to do some press-ups and one thing that really stood out to me watching the news recently was the effect Covid has had on people’s mental health, being stuck inside, isolated,” said Will, who plays at No 8 for club side Ely Tigers.

“I had a look at some of the statistics and I went onto the ONS website and I found out that there were 5,691 suicides in England and Wales last year, which is so sad. I thought I would do a press-up for every person who lost their life to suicide last year. I gave myself 30 days to do it, so it’s roughly 200 a day.

“I chose Mind as the charity because it was the mental health charity that had always stood out for me. They accommodate for all mental health problems, they are a welcoming charity so I thought it would be a great charity to choose.”

Will chose press-ups for their practicality - in that they can be done anywhere at home - and are also a good work out.

It is not like running or many other challenges though, as it is quite a solitary exercise, certainly pertinent for the times, but that has not stopped the Hills Road rugby team rallying round in support - on a Teams call the squad did the final 25 press-ups with Will, who is studying A levels in physics, chemistry and economics.

“One thing I also wanted to work on was my fitness, so I thought I would do something related to that, and I just enjoy doing them really - it’s as simple as that,” he said.

“I’m really enjoying it. It feels really good, and any sort of exercise will release endorphins. It’s good fun in that sense.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling it. After seven days in, my chest was pretty tight. I went from doing 20 a day prior to lockdown to now 200 so ten-fold so I’m going to feel it.

“But I’m not hurting yet, which is the way I’m looking at it.”

Will had initially set a fundraising target of £500, but achieved that amount within three hours so upped the total to £1,000, which he has also smashed. His total is currently £1,463.

To sponsor Will, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/william-garner2.

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