Nigel DoggettNigel Doggett, a Trustee of Hft, a national charity for people with learning disabilities, is embarking on the challenge of a lifetime by taking part in the gruelling Marathon des Sables, on 8 April 2016. Nigel, whose brother, Nick, is supported by the charity, is aiming to raise over £130,000 for Hft’s Personalised Technology Programme.

Nigel, who lives in Oxfordshire and graduated from Magdalen College, has been training hard for the Marathon which is described as the toughest footrace on earth. This has included early morning runs with his spaniel, Luna, and Bikram yoga to help prepare his body for running in the ferocious desert heat. A week before the event he plans heat chamber sessions to acclimatise. His feet are expected to take a battering from the harsh conditions; so to prepare them for the challenge Nigel’s been using a Paw Wax normally used on dogs to prepare their paws for hard surfaces. But it’s not all been plain sailing: a recent bout of heatstroke, following a business trip, has given him a taste of the very real dangers which face him in the Sahara desert.

The Marathon des Sables involves running six marathons over six days in the Sahara desert in temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius. The total distance covered is 251km (156 miles). Participants have to carry their own provisions, sleeping gear, medical supplies and essentials for the week. Only water is provided. Dehydration, blisters, swollen feet, and being rounded up by the camel sweepers are just some of the challenges competitors face.

Hft is a recognised leader in using personalised technology (also known as assistive technology) to support people with learning disabilities live more independently and safely.

Hft has recently launched two new applications: e-MAR – Hft’s own electronic medication administration record, which digitalises medication administration – and Lincus – a self-reporting application, designed to help people communicate how they are feeling.

Nigel Doggett 2

Nigel, a Trustee of Hft for more than 3 years, who has the support of Sir Ranulph Fiennes, also a former Marathon des Sables competitor, said:

“I have set myself a challenging target of £130,000 which is helped enormously by the offer of £50k matched funding from Forbes Charitable Foundation. All of the money raised will go to the Hft Personalised Technology programme which really does achieve the very best outcomes for people by enabling them to live as independently and safely as possible.”

Hft currently supports more than 2,500 people with learning disabilities across the country.  Locally, the charity supports more than 100 people in Oxfordshire.  This includes supporting people with learning disabilities to live independently in their own homes, providing employment services to help people develop skills and experience for work and helping people to pursue hobbies, make new friends and get involved in their local communities.

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