A CRADLEY councillor who used to be obese and has arthritis in both knees has completed 100 miles to raise funds for play equipment at Homer Hill Park - even stopping a burglary in its tracks along the way.

Councillor Richard Body braved the cold and high winds to walk and run 101 miles along a 1.08 mile loop of the park and along St Peter's cemetery path from Saturday (December 7) to Sunday (December 8).

He carried on through the night during the 26-hour challenge and thinks he stopped an attempted break-in at St Peter's Church after the offenders saw his torchlight and scarpered.

The once heavy smoker battled chronic pain from arthritic knees to complete 93 laps of his circuit.

Cllr Body is raising cash to fund play equipment at the park which disabled children can also use and wanted to raise awareness of the importance of physical exercise and the borough's free parks.

Donations can be made to the appeal at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/richard-body-homer-hill-ultra-challenge.

Hereford Times:

Richard said: "It has been my hardest challenge to date. I couldn't have done it without the people who came out to support me.

"I was glad when it was over - I ran for the first 20 miles and then speed walked using sticks.

"From 2am till 4am the weather was awful and I was in a lot of pain - I was thinking what on earth are you doing!

"We went through St Peter's Churchyard and I think we stopped an attempted break-in as someone had pulled up the metal grill and smashed the window but then ran off - our torches probably stopped them.

"If I have inspired people my age to use their park which is free - then that's brilliant.

"If this rickety old arthritic grandad can do it anyone can!

"I was overweight and a heavy smoker and knew I had to do something to be able to reach being a grandad."

The 53-year-old grandad, who is chairman of the Friends of Homer Hill Park group, transformed his life after he was given the shock news he was officially obese at an NHS health check.

He took up running and shed three stone in three months - and has not looked back since - running 185 half marathons and 40 full and ultra marathons.

Hereford Times:

Richard was backed by fellow councillorsTim Crumpton who stayed through the night and Steve Waltho, Christine Perks, Gaye Partridge and Judy Foster.

Richard is writing a book called Running Hurts which he hopes to complete in February.