Essex

Hamster wheel man runs for 24 hours in Southend

Dean Ovel and charity collectors Image copyright Southend Hospital
Image caption Dean Ovel is supporting a dementia appeal by Southend Hospital

A former marathon runner has spent 24 hours on a giant hamster wheel to raise money for charity.

Dean Ovel, 40, from Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, completed the challenge in Southend High Street from midday on Saturday to midday on Sunday.

Mr Ovel designed and built the 8ft (2.4m) tall wheel himself, and only escaped it for "short comfort breaks" during the challenge.

His efforts are part of a £100,000 dementia appeal at Southend Hospital.

'Glad it's over'

Mr Ovel worked on a 1:15 scale Lego model before constructing the real wheel, which was positioned at the top of the street.

His two grandmothers both had dementia, and Mr Ovel said it was a cause close to his heart.

Image copyright Dean Newman
Image caption Mr Ovel thanked those who encouraged him to complete the challenge

"Believe me, I have no strong desire to run on what is essentially a self-powered treadmill, within a 2m high cage, in Southend High Street, over a busy weekend," he wrote on his JustGiving page.

"But, the more I think about the reason why, the stronger my will to attempt it becomes."

Mr Ovel fell to his knees as he ran through the finish time, saying he was "glad it is over".

He said: "At about 6am this morning I wasn't sure I could get back in the wheel but friends picked me up and told me to get on with it. I really appreciate everyone who has got involved."

The money the hospital hopes to raise will be used to provide two therapeutic and interactive day rooms, as well as specialist hearing aids, bed and chair sensors, mobile sensory units and reminiscence items such as memory boxes.