Fundraiser completes third challenge of his 12-event One Big Year project

Fundraiser completes third challenge of his 12-event One Big Year project

27 March 2012

Mike Needham, 27, celebrated as he reached the finish of what was the most tortuous event of his One Big Year project to date.

Mike traversed the famous Cotswold Way over the course of two days. The trail takes in some of the country’s most stunning scenery and landscapes, but Mike had little time to admire his surroundings as he battled to stay awake, hydrated and avoid injury throughout the superhuman challenge.

Starting at 6.30am on Thursday morning in the historic city of Bath, Mike worked his way up the country, finally reaching Chipping Campden 29 hours later. Over the course of his challenge Mike changes his shoes three times; his specialist socks eight times; his clothes four times and bandaged his feet twice.

Mike is totally deaf in one ear, and wears a hearing aid in the other. Due to the nature of this physical challenge, Mike did not wear his hearing aid and subsequently had little hearing. This meant he could not listen to music and instead sang to himself along the way. At night, Mike was alone with his thoughts in pitch darkness, with a head torch and backpack.

The One Big Year support team met with Mike at pre-arranged rendezvous points along the way, around two hours apart at a time. They were on hand to provide Mike with specialist hydration drinks to replenish lost nutrients and keep Mike alert, as well as keep him topped up with fresh kit from sponsors Crewroom and Zone3 and plenty of food.

One Big Year is a fundraising project dreamt up by the Jones Lang Lasalle chartered surveyor, Mike Needham. Diagnosed with Meningitis as a toddler Mike very nearly lost his life. His deafness was caused by a side effect of the strong medication he was given to overcome the deadly disease, and he hopes to raise a total of £30,000 for the Meningitis Research Foundation by the end of this year.

Mike was supported by the Cotswold Way National Trail Office, and was cheered on by the people he met along the 102 mile trek.

On the first day the fog was so dense that Mike could only see 15 metres ahead from 6.00am until 4.00pm and he came face to face with a charging horse in a misty Cotswold field!

The final section involved Mike scaling a 1000ft hill where he looked down on flying buzzards and planes before going on to complete the monumental goal he had set himself. Speaking emotionally at the end point, an exhausted Mike said: “I’m so happy to have finished this challenge. If I can do it anyone can – you can set your mind to anything. This time a year ago I knew I wanted 2012 to be a big year, but I’d never have thought I’d have accomplished this. I’m deaf and have tackled this trail in one go – I know people who are blind that have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and others who battle daily with challenging disabilities but are always smiling.
Meningitis is a disease that can be vaccinated against. Scientists and researchers at Meningitis Research Foundation work tirelessly to beat this disease. Because there are so many strains, it means there are still vaccines that have yet to be found. The money I raise through One Big Year will go towards finding these cures so families in the future don’t have to worry about Meningitis anymore.”

Mike’s One Big Year has already seen him successfully complete the infamous Tough Guy event in January and Hellrunner in February. Next up for Mike is the Open 5 Adventure in the Peak District and the Edinburgh Marathon, plus a further seven challenges to take him to December 2012. Mike lives and works in Birmingham and is originally from Derbyshire.

Chris Head, Chief Executive at Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), said: “We rely on voluntary donations to fund our vital work into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia, so every penny raised during Mike’s ‘One Big Year’ will make a huge difference to the charity. We are extremely grateful to Mike for taking on this mammoth challenge on our behalf and wish him luck in his next event – ‘Open 5 Adventure Race’ on 1st April in the Peak District ”

Mike is supported by his sponsors: Crewroom, Zone3, Jones Lang Lasalle, Inkpot Media and Birmingham Sports Massage Clinic, who were on hand pre- and post-event to look after Mike’s weathered muscles!

You can find out more about One Big Year by visiting or following @OneBigYear2012 on Twitter.

If you would like to donate to One Big Year, please visit

If your company would like to become a corporate sponsor of Mike and One Big Year please email:

Sam Williams
Media Relations Manager

Hi, I’m Sam and I’m MRF's PR Manager.

If you want to know more about this story call me on 0333 405 626251, out of office hours on 07875 498047 or email me