AFTER 36 days and more than 200 miles Dave Fairbrother took off his ice hockey kit for the final time.But even after his marathon fundraising effort for a mental health charity, he still could not rest.
A return to work finally ended the 51-year-old’s daily walks through Saddleworth in support of Patch Amnesty.
However, Dave went out in a blaze of glory, joined on a blistering warm final 9.4km sunshine stroll by Ryan Finnerty, coach of Manchester Storm ice hockey side and Dallas Erhardt, the club’s captain.
It boosted his mileage tally to 210 with more than £400 raised for Patch, a charity started in April 2019 by Dave’s friend, Michael Lacy.
“Initially, I was going to go right through lockdown,” explained Dave as he completed his commendable journey of endurance. “Now, the only thing in lockdown will be the hockey clothing and stick.
“Originally, my company said it could be August before we got back to work. So, I was gearing myself to walk through until August.
“But now I have finished he walks five weeks and one day after it all started.
“I have had awesome support and it was fantastic to see Ryan and Dallas joining in.
“With them coming from a professional ice hockey team, there are always mental health issues to consider.“Ryan messaged to say, ‘Can I come and join you?’ And when he found out it was my last day, he said he would come out once more and bring Dallas with him.
“There have been plenty of other people pipping their car horns and saying hello. So, it has all been good and a massive thank you for all those who have supported me.”
Dallas added: “For Dave to have done this is quite awesome. I am not sure I would have had the mental strength to have done this every day.”
Dave, known to many as Big Dave, added: “Patch Amnesty was with funds raised from the selling of blades and patches at musical festivals and other events.
“Michael does a good job. We like the same kind of music and I have had my own issues in the past with mental illness.
“So, I kept thinking, ‘What can I do to help out?’ and this seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Every day, come rain but mostly shine, Dave set off from his home on Ripponden Road to walk down into Denshaw.
From the Junction crossroads, he turned towards Delph before finally climbing out of the village up Grains Road to the Kings Arms at the top of Grains Bar.
Dave has followed the sport for about 15 years and is a steward with Altrincham-based Storm.
He added: “Initially, people used to tell me all about the fights which sounded intriguing. There is the odd scrap but it is good, family entertainment.”
Despite the moniker, Dave is not as big anymore. In fact, he is half the man he used to be.
He explained: “I used to be nearly 20 stone but lost 10 stones in nine-and-a-half months. But people still know me as ‘Big Dave’.”
• Anyone wishing to sponsor Dave can do so online at https://tinyurl.com/y95ppxxt