Search for the hero inside yourself

By Jeff Prestridge, 19 February 2012 – 2 comments
‘SOMETIMES the river flows but nothing breathes
A train arrives but never leaves
It's a shame
Oh, life like love that's walked out of the door
Of being rich or being poor
Such a shame

But it's then, then that faith arrives
To make your feelings alive
And that's why (why) you should keep on aiming high
Just seek yourself and you will shine

You've got to search for the hero inside yourself
Search for the secrets you hide
Search for the hero inside yourself
Until you find the key to your life.’

(M People, 1995)


SOMETIMES in life – as well as in running – you look for people to inspire you. To help you search for the hero inside yourself.

Of course, my fellow 10 in 10 Brathay runners inspire me – every single one of them,  especially those who are coming back for more this year (the mighty duo, David ‘Foxey’ Bayley and Jim Meta).

But earlier this month I was inspired by another athlete. Step forward Roger Allsopp, a 70 year old retired surgeon from Guernsey.

I ‘discovered’ Roger when I was privileged to attend the 2012 Oldie of the Year awards at Simpson’s restaurant on the Strand. Organised by The Oldie magazine (an older person’s version of Private Eye), the idea is to recognise the talents of those in the latter stages of their time here on earth. And the awards are much coveted – past winners include Barry Humphries, Joanna Lumley, Sir David Attenborough and Richard Wilson.

The awards are always well attended and littered with leading lights in the world of entertainment and politics. This year was no exception. I was sitting opposite Tony Benn. Martin Bell was behind me while on the top table sat Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, Ken Loach, Maureen Lipman and Joan Bakewell. If only I hadn’t left my autograph book at home!

The overall Oldie of the Year for 2012 was Ken Clarke. But my Oldie hero by a country mile was Roger Allsopp. Last August, at the age of 70, Roger decided to swim the Channel and in the process he became the oldest person to complete the arduous task. It took him 17 hours 51 minutes to complete. What a hero. Roger certainly searched for the hero inside himself that day – and the key to his life.

What was so fantastic about Roger’s achievement was that in completing the swim he was able to raise £750,000 to buy a mass spectrometer for Southampton University – aided by a £250,000 donation from entrepreneur Derek Coates. These spectrometers help detect cancers early. In effect, it gives  people the greatest chance of overcoming cancer by detecting it early.

If Roger can swim the Channel  at the age of 70, I am certain I can do 10 marathons in 10 days. OK, I am not going to raise £750,000 (I am at £39,000 so far) but if there are any Derek Coates out there who would like to back me to the tune of £250,000 I would be delighted. Just visit

Roger, you’ve helped me search for the hero inside myself. Thank you. You are a mega person and you deserve to be recognised by The Oldie for being the glorious Oldie you are.


  • Chris Heaton

    20 February 2012, 2.05pm

    You might be up for the award next year Jeff!!!

  • Davey

    21 February 2012, 12.28am

    Take inspiration from whence it comes Jeff. I was also in a room full of inspiring people this year; at Brathay Hall.

    Steve, Chris, Aly, Mac, yourself and my other 17 colleagues convinced me that I hadn't just entered the wrong room by mistake and that anything is possible.

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