A SELF-CONFESSED couch potato has taken up running and is aiming to run the distance from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise funds for charity.

Mike Bird, a father of three from Bridgwater, has committed to running 874 miles to raise awareness for Neurofibromatosis – a rare genetic condition from which both Mike and his two youngest children suffer from.

"The condition can cause benign tumours to grow on the nerves and skin as well causing cafe au lait patches and problems with bones, eyes and the nervous system," Mike said.

"My 9 year-old daughter had to undergo eight-hour surgery three years ago as a tumour in her neck started to cause signs of early paralysis.

"I have a tumour on my brain and several lesions have recently been discovered on my son’s brain. Despite affecting more than 25,000 individuals in the UK, it’s actually a very little known about condition."

Mike, who works at Hippychick in Bridgwater, has set up a Just Giving page and aims to raise £800 for the Child Tumour Trust (CTT).

The father-of-three said the charity has supported his family 'constantly' through their 'challenging journey' and lockdown inspired him to start running.

"I have never been particularly active. The most exercise I tended to do during the week was walking across the Hippychick car park where I work and into the office," Mike added.

"Lockdown really motivated me, as I know it has done for several other people, and really opened my eyes and ears to the value of exercise and getting out into the fresh air. It just makes you feel better, happier, healthier.

"A year ago, running wasn’t something I’d ever contemplated. But I have been so inspired by all these lockdown heroes who have achieved such amazing feats – Captain Tom being the one who made the most impact. It made me think – ‘I can do that."

Mike set out to achieve his mission on January 1 and has clocked up 100 miles by running back and forth from Hippychick during the week, as well as going out on longer stints on weekends.

He can now run 7.5km and says his stamina is increasing daily.

To date, Mike has received more than £700 in donations from his friends and family and his employer, Hippychick Ltd. His daughter, Freya, also donated £5 of her pocket money to support her father.

"My employers at Hippychick have been amazing. Not only have they given me a sizeable donation, but they are also going to ‘sponsor’ me, providing me with technical running gear to help me go the distance," Mike said.

"They are also helping me to clock up the miles by dispatching me on Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 18) to run between the office and the Purple Spoon Café in Bridgwater with food supplies donated by Hippychick staff.

"This amazing Café has transformed itself during lockdown into a food bank and is doing an incredible job helping to feed the local community. The round trip will put another 2.5 miles under my belt and every little helps."

To help Mike raise funds for the Childhood Tumor Trust, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mike-birdlandsendtojohnogroats