A football agent paralysed from the waist down after the suicide bomb at Manchester Arena is taking on a 10k run in the city almost a year to the day of the attack.
Martin Hibbert, from Chorley, whose injuries were described as the equivalent of ‘being shot 22 times at point blank range’, suffered spinal injuries after the explosion.
He had been standing just 10 metres away from the bomb when it detonated.
But the 41-year-old has defied the odds and will line up on the start line for the Great Manchester Run on Sunday, May 20 determined to finish the 10k distance in under an hour.
He will take part in a racing wheelchair alongside former Paralympian Richie Powell and best friend Lee Freeman.
“Anyone who knows me knows how determined I am,” said Martin. “It’s going to be a huge challenge for me to use my arms to push myself around the course, but I will do it.
“Richie and Lee have been a huge support and have been at my side throughout the whole of my training and it will be a proud moment for me personally when we cross the finish line.
“With it being so close to the anniversary of the attack, I just had to come and take part in the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run.”
“I want to show the terrorists that they aren’t going to stop me doing anything and it has in fact made me even stronger and determined to prove them wrong.”
Martin, who hopes to walk again in the future, recently underwent pioneering treatment in Australia which saw him regain movement in his toes after just two days.
He has more treatment planned for later in the year, but in the meantime is focussed on setting up the Martin Hibbert Charity Foundation, to raise £1 million for the hospitals that saved his and his daughter’s life.
Martin said: “I wasn’t sure how much money I could raise, and then Richie suggested we go for £1 million in the first year.
“The money will go to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Salford Royal and Southport Spinal Unit, because without them we wouldn’t be here.
“It’s a huge amount of money, but if I can raise that for them it would be incredible.”
Two of his friends, Lee and Katherine Kibble, have raised almost £20,000 for Martin by completing a series of challenges, and they will both be taking on the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run with a team of 20 others.
Martin said: “There are lots of people taking on the 10k to raise money and I’m so overwhelmed by the support I’ve received so far.
“Without this help the future would look very worrying and after going through what we’ve been through over the last 12 months, worrying about finances is the last thing I want to be wasting time and energy on.”
Martin will join runners of all ages and abilities on a route that passes his beloved Old Trafford, before finishing on Deansgate, in the heart of the city centre in front of thousands of cheering spectators.
The Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run will take place just two days before the anniversary of the attack, and a one minute’s silence will be observed as a mark of respect to the victims.
To support Martin’s fundraising, visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/themhcf