Belfast Telegraph

Ballymena’s JP in epic wheelchair trek

JP Patterson at Land’s End
JP Patterson at Land’s End
JP during his gruelling trek
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

Former reality TV and Ballymena rugby star Joshua 'JP' Patterson is gearing up for his next big challenge after becoming the first able-bodied person to travel the length of Great Britain in a wheelchair.

The former Made In Chelsea star is still recovering after travelling the gruelling 900 miles from John O'Groats to Land's End in just 19 days as part of a bid to end stigmas surrounding mental health and disabilities.

"Both my hands were plastered in blisters - I had them on every knuckle," he said.

"I got a ganglion cyst on my wrist, both knees have strained ligaments and I suffered back spasms and sleep deprivation.

"I reached breaking point but never thought about giving up as I wanted to set a new standard and inspire the many people out there who struggle every single day."

The new world record holder and former Ballymena Rugby Club player was inspired to embark on the exhausting fundraising effort by best pal Ben Tansley.

Ben was left paralysed after a motorbike accident almost two years ago. It happened as he made his way to see Josh's newborn daughter India.

"From his hospital bed he called to say that he would never walk again, but rather than accept his fate Ben wanted to prove the odds wrong and inspire others to do the same," Josh said.

JP was also motivated by his mental health struggles which took him to the brink of suicide.

The son of a Ballymena man, he previously opened up about how his problems were exacerbated by his parents' divorce when he was just a teenager.

Just one year after Ben's accident the pair completed the Berlin Marathon in wheelchairs.

Now, Josh is plotting his next challenge and he hopes it will take place on Tainmen Mountain in China, known as Heaven's Gate, in September.

"There are 999 steps to the top and Ben really likes the idea, even though he has lost the use of his legs, that he can still complete the journey on his hands. It's a huge physical task but I'm going to be right behind him holding him up," he added.

The two friends have racked up almost £30,000 on GoFundMe accounts for the Royal Marines Charity, Spinal Injuries Association and Heads Together.

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