Veteran charity fundraiser to mark his 80th birthday with a series of challenges

Alan Jones-Bratt, 79, at the Hawthorns

Alan Jones-Bratt used his next milestone as inspiration for his latest fundraising effort

To mark his birthday on September 9 this year, former ultra-runner Alan is planning a series of four walks in four days that will total 80 miles, a prospect that could be daunting for someone half his age.

However, only a substantial challenge will suffice for the man who in the 1980s completed the 1,000-mile Wolverhampton Millennium Race from John O’Groats to Lands End and crossed Ireland with his older brother Don, raising funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association ( MNDA).

Among his other accomplishments, Alan also created and organized the Cannock People’s Marathon in 1983 and ran it with The Chase Grand Prix series for four years.

This attracted thousands of runners and raised several hundred thousand for charity.

He is also a strong supporter of West Bromwich Albion and in 2006 set up the WBA Supporters’ Golf Society, which he led until 2018, which raised over £32,000 for charity.

This year Alan will again fundraise for MNDA with Diabetes UK, the Prostate Cancer Support Organization and the Alzheimer Society.

In addition to his 80-mile walking challenge, Alan is planning 80 indoor bowl runs and 80 outdoor rink runs between Aug. 22-25, as well as 80 holes of golf between Aug. 29-Sept. 2 in his 80×80 challenge. .

The first of Alan’s walks is scheduled for September 4 when he plans to follow the Bridgnorth walk route from Bridgnorth to the hill of Brown Clee and back.

Then, on September 5, it will run 20 miles through Cannock Chase, followed by 20 miles of Worcestershire Way on September 6.

Finally, he plans to tackle 20 miles of the Millennium Way in Warwickshire on September 7.

Alan said: “It was in the middle of 2019 when it occurred to me that I would soon hit the ripe old age of 80.

“I thought this was a most important milestone, so I started thinking about how I could ‘celebrate’ reaching octogenarian status in 2022.

“Having already been on several long-distance running adventures with my late brother Don in the mid-1980s raising money for charity, I decided to try and create a worthwhile challenge based on an 80×80 theme and making this my last major charity fundraising event before retiring to the rocking chair.”

Alan explained that he was not as fit as he was and that after placing an artificial hip and a plate in an ankle joint, he would also include more gentle activities in the endurance tests and of stamina.

Alan added: “Thus the AJB 80×80 Challenge 2022 was born.

“First of all, I would bowl 80 innings on an outdoor rink over two days, 40 innings each day.

“Then I would bowl 80 games on an indoor rink, again 40 bowls every day. Then I would try to play 80 holes of golf on three different courses, playing 27 holes each.

“My final set of challenges would be to walk 80 miles over four days, walking 20 miles each day on four different routes.”

Alan has family reasons for supporting each of the charities he has chosen for the challenge.

He lost his 50-year-old older brother Dennis to motor neurone disease in 1977 and his second-older brother Stanley, who died aged 82 in 2010, suffered from diabetes.

In 2020, his brother and running mate, Bridgnorth resident Don, died aged 88 after falling ill with dementia following a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

And finally, his brother Ivan had lived with prostate cancer but died in January this year of a lung infection, aged 86.

Alan added: “Don has me running marathons and ultra distance races.

“We’ve run over 50 marathons each, including the London Marathon seven times, and we’ve both clocked times under three hours.

“In 1984 we walked the Pennine Way 300 miles in six days.

“In 1985 we finished John O’ Groats at Lands End, running 1,012 miles in 20 days and in 1986 we crossed the Republic of Ireland in a week, all those races for the Motor Neurone Disease Association because of the loss of our brother.

“Our last big run together was in 1999 when we ran the full length of the River Severn from Plynlimon in Wales to Bristol Channel, we did it in a week to raise money for Shropshire and Mid Wales Hospice.

“So with all this sadness-embroidered story of the loss of four of my siblings, I’ve decided there couldn’t be a better reason for me to try and complete my challenge and raise some much-needed funds. for the MNDA, the Alzheimer Society, the Prostate Cancer Support Group and Diabetes.org.

“I’ve managed to create a ‘Just Giving’ crowdfunding page to hopefully receive donations for these deserving charities.”

Alan’s bowling challenges will take place at Malvern Hills Indoor Bowls Club on August 22, Stourport Bowling Green on August 23, St Dunstan’s Bowling Club on August 24 and Bromsgrove Indoor Bowls Club on August 25.

His golf challenge takes place at Wharton Park Golf Club on August 29, Ombersley Golf Club on August 31 and Bewdley Pines Golf Club on September 2.