WHEN Robert Haigh hit the big 40 people said he was over the hill.
But the dad-of-four and stepson Rikki Howe, 24, proved them wrong by hurtling back down the hill for charity – as a birthday present.
Robert, a lorry driver from Holmfirth, launched himself down a hill at 40mph inside a 12ft inflatable sphere, likened to a giant hamster-wheel.
And so did Rikki.
Robert completed the challenge to raise money for a charity close to his heart, the Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Mr Haigh has spina bifida, a defect in the spine, which he has lived with for 40 years. When he was born he spent three months in intensive care and received regular care from staff at the hospital until he was 18.
To mark his 40th birthday Mr Haigh – who enjoys extreme sports – volunteered to throw himself down the hill in the Sphereing challenge.
He said: “It was an incredible experience. You get put inside this thing that looks a bit like a huge beach ball. When I was inside it I felt like a hamster in one of those wheels.
“It only lasted for about a minute, but it was a great experience rolling down a hill at that speed.
“I felt quite disorientated at the end – but I’m planning on doing it again next year.”
Mr Haigh’s wife, Gillian, said: “Robert’s a nutter, so I knew Sphereing would make a great present. It’s brilliant that he used it as an opportunity to raise some money for a worthy cause.”
The £300 raised from his family, friends and colleagues will be given to the Sheffield hospital’s Bear 2 Appeal, which aims to raise £120,000 to buy a paediatric intensive care ambulance.
Mr Haigh added: “The Sheffield Children’s Hospital did a lot for me when I was young.
“Thanks to that I’ve been able to take part in a lot of extreme sports that otherwise might have been beyond me.
“Because I have spina bifida I could have had movement problems. But they were fantastic and this was my way of thanking them.”
Mr Haigh and his stepson, Rikki, 24, took part in the challenge in Cheshire. They were cheered on by Mrs Haigh and children Terence, 22, Charlotte, 14, and 15-month-old Eleanor.