Eastbourne hotel owner Neil Kirby, 65, is aiming to take on the South Downs Way 50 mile ultra race in aid of two charities.
Neil, who is owner of the Langham Hotel, will be running Hospitality Action and cancer charity SimPal when he takes on the gruelling challenge on Saturday April 7.
Neil said: “I have been in the hospitality business 50 years now and I have decided to set myself the ultimate challenge of running my first ultra marathon.
“I have run marathons from the age of 29, my first being the Manchester Piccadilly Marathon in 3hrs and 14 mins, and introduced Sir Rocco Forte to running and training when I was at Grosvenor House Park Lane.
“Sir Rocco and I used to run and train together in St James’ and Hyde Park London and did 8 marathons together. I have been running for 37 years and completed 34 marathons, 189 half marathons and many other shorter running events (10k’s, 5k’s). My best time for a marathon being 2hrs 53mins when I was a lot younger aged 32.
“The challenge of the ultra race means a lot to me personally as it will be my first ultra-race.
“My son Neil junior has run and won both the 50 mile and 100 mile south downs race, so between us we must have good running genes!
“It is also symbolic as I am running a mile for every year I have been in the hospitality business. I am very much looking forward to the race in April and hopefully it will be a great opportunity to raise some money for my two nominated charities as well.
“To date I have raised over £350,000 just through my running, I did the London marathon in 2016 with my manager Simon and raised £3,500 between us.”
“Sir Rocco and I have previously raised £50,000 in 1984 for the then named ‘The Hotel and Catering Benevolent Association’ (Now Hospitality Action) I am very proud to be able to support them again all these years on.
“I still love the industry as much as the day I started in 1967 as a boy of 15 washing the dishes.
“I hope that others will see me at 65, read my story about my life and understand that it’s great to have a goal in life.
“Mine started when I was at Grosvenor House, Park Lane one day I was on shift washing the dishes in the kitchen.
“This man who I had not met before arrived, immaculate dressed in a navy-blue suit with a white shirt and hankie in his top pocket a beautiful silk tie, and highly polished shoes. I nudged my mate and said “Who’s that fella?” he replied “He’s the General Manager” and I said “That’s what I want to be one day” - So I had a goal in life.
“I worked my way up through every department to become General Manager, and I am proud to have done 28 years’ service.
“SimPal is a cancer charity that supports people who have been diagnosed with cancer through providing mobile phones, calls, texts and data free of charge with the aim of the connecting people with friends and family.
“I believe that Hospitality Action is a vital charity to the industry and its colleagues as it benefits the hard working often unseen people of the hotel and restaurant world who have sadly been hit by hard times.
“The Langham Hotel are pleased to announce that we are also supporting hospitality action by offering a complimentary lunch for 12 for their Golden Friends lunch club in our area. The programme specialises in offering ‘get togethers’ for lonely and sometimes isolated older people.”
People can support Neil’s efforts by sponsoring him at www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NeilKirbySnr - Virgin Money UK Link.
You can also keep up with his training and the latest news by visiting his website and blog at www.chris-cancercommunity.com.
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