Four Stadium Challenge completed for Niamh’s Next Step

The Four Stadium Challenge team at Windsor Park

The Four Stadium Challenge team at Windsor Park

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A team of football fans beat fatigue and the traffic to visit the international stadiums of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales inside 24 hours.

The journey for Simon Cox, Chris Curry, Anthony Foreman, Malcolm Blackburn and Phil Goulding started from the Bobby Moore Statue at Wembley at 7pm on Wednesday (October 15) before heading north to Hampden Park in Glasgow.

The end of the Four Stadium Challenge for Niamh's Next Step

The end of the Four Stadium Challenge for Niamh's Next Step

They then took a ferry ride to Belfast to visit Windsor Park before flying to the Millennium Stadium in Wales.

Not only did the team complete it inside their 24-hour target, they were actually back at Wembley Stadium in 23 hours and 23 minutes.

Simon, who visited 92 football league stadiums in 92 hours for Help For Heroes last year, said: “We are absolutely buzzing, it was amazing.

“We were all up from 6am or 7am on Wednesday morning and I doubt any one of us got any sleep until probably 10pm last night.

“It was long but we avoided all potential hurdles that could go wrong.

“We had some great fun and we really got to know each other.”

While the drive to Hampden Park in the dark was long and the section of the journey on the London Underground was packed with commuters, the aerial leg saw the pilot reading out a special message to the team which resulted in a lot of interest from passengers about the challenge and why they were doing it.

A taxi driver in Belfast also donated £20 after hearing about the fundraiser while taking the team to their next destination.

Simon added: “We knew on paper we could get back around 6.30pm and we actually did at 6.23pm.

“We were always pretty confident on paper, but we could have had leaves on the line, signal failure or anything like that.

“Flybe said they were pleased to have got us away.”

Apart from a slight delay on the train after leaving Cardiff due to the volume of passengers, everything else seemed to go to plan.

And while it was difficult to get much sleep along the way, there was a strong driving force keeping them going.

Simon said: “There’s no rest but when you think about what these people go through with neuroblastoma, it’s nothing compared to what they face.”

More than £1,600 has already been raised by the fundraiser, which will go to Niamh’s Next Step, the Wellingborough-based charity run by Sam and Chris Curry after losing their daughter Niamh to childhood cancer neuroblastoma in May 2012.

Niamh was aged just five when she died.

Her parents wanted to continue raising cash and awareness about neuroblastoma after her death as a lasting legacy to Niamh and to help other families facing the heartbreaking fight against the aggressive cancer.

Simon said: “I have got to know Chris and Sam over the last 18 months and I saw what they did with Niamh’s Next Step Into Europe, I was blown away by it.

“So I said to Chris I wanted to do the Four Stadium Challenge for Niamh’s Next Step.

“Chris, Sam and their family have had a lot to face, it’s been life-changing for them.

“But what I admire about Sam and Chris is their ability to bounce back.

“They have gone out there and said what’s happened has happened, but we want to do this.”

Simon said the challenge has given him time to reflect on the reasons behind it, and he is not the only one.

He added: “My kids are nine and 11 and they understand what we are doing, they don’t ask questions but they know there’s a little girl not here anymore.”

Donations can still be made by going to www.fourstadiumchallenge.co.uk.

For more information about Niamh’s Next Step go to www.niamhsnextstep.com.