Pride of Britain: Meet the Somerset man who completed a marathon after undergoing heart surgery

  • Meet Pride of Britain nominee Paul Hobbs

Each year, ITV News West Country searches for a Regional Fundraiser of the Year as part of the national Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Award.

One of our eight shortlisted nominees is Paul Hobbs, a man who walked a marathon along the pier in Weston-super-Mare two exactly years after having major heart surgery.

The sponsored challenge was all to raise money for the British Heart Foundation, but it is just one of dozens of charity fundraisers Paul has undertaken.

It's thought the 73-year-old has raised almost £1million across the past three decades for a variety of organisations and charities through countless walks, auctions and other events.

But Paul's efforts are remarkable not just because of the amount of cash he's raised, but because of the challenges he has overcome.

Doctors discovered a large aneurysm that at one stage left him scared to move. It is something that Paul said he is lucky to have survived.

Paul Hobbs said he is lucky to be alive - and now he has pledged to continue his fundraising missions

"How I'm still here to tell the tale is beyond belief," he said.

Paul required major heart surgery - but that did not stop him from thinking about what his next charity fundraiser would be.

His wife, Maureen, added: "It's all amazing because all this happened so quickly with his heart and everything, and we really didn't think at the time that he might make it.

"And then to go through all that he's been through and then to do this on the pier, it was amazing, it was an amazing day, totally.

Maureen said Paul's family feared at one point that he might not survive after doctors discovered an aneuryism

Paul resaid when he was unwell he "set about a plan" that he would come through the operation and "be stronger".

He added: "That was the message I wanted to give when I'd done the marathon - you can come back from that and you can be stronger."

Paul completed the marathon - all 26.2 miles - by walking up and down the Grand Pier in his home town of Weston-super-Mare, cheered on by some celebrity fans.

Among those supporting him were Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis, Former WBC World Middleweight Champion Glenn Catley and Weston-super-Mare AFC player Lucas Vowles.

Paul was cheered on during the marathon at the Grand Pier by some famous faces, including the founder of Glastonbury Festival, Michael Eavis

It was "one of the greatest days of my whole life, without a doubt," Paul recalled.

"There was [sic] a few walkers with me and they all stood back and let me do the final 50/60 yards, so you know, that tape and that really was an amazing feeling.

"That was an amazing feeling but above all, I think, was the way it captured the imagination of the town that day," he added.

After he finished the walk, Michael Eavis praised Paul, telling him he had done "a marvellous job... over the years."

Paul said the motivation for all of his fundraising achievements, including the marathon, has always been about helping people.

"If I can make a contribution where I have affected and benefitted somebody, somewhere, that gives me immense pleasure.

"If I helped save one person's life in those 30 years of what I've done, then I've achieved what I set out to do," he said.

But will his legendary charity efforts continue?

"I'd like to think that I could carry on," Paul said.

"It might not always be 26 miles, mind, but you know, whatever. Whatever you can do.

"If there is something I can do, I will."