Even he thought it might be ‘a fridge too far,’ but today, (Thursday 12 September) Tony Phoenix-Morrison has achieved his incredible goal and carried a Smeg fridge weighing 42.5kg the length of the UK.
Better known as Tony ‘the Fridge,’ the 49-year-old Granddad from Hebburn, South Tyneside, is no stranger to epic charity feats but the Smeg John O’Groats to Land’s End Endurance Challenge was far and away the most difficult he has faced.
For 41 days, and 1,009 miles, he carried his fridge to raise money and awareness of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. As well as raising tens of thousands of pounds for the charity, which helps find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer, it has been a life-affirming experience for Tony.
Tony says: “When I set out on this challenge, I genuinely had no idea how far I’d get. I wanted to try something so hard that nobody could be certain of its outcome. All I could do was try to prepare myself physically and mentally as best I could.
“At the end of this I feel humbled really. I’ve had so much support and generosity from the British public from the top of Scotland all the way down to the bottom of England.
“It’s not just been the donations to the charity. People have fed and watered me all over the place and I’ve had umpteen physio treatments. One physio, Gavin Cree, helped me out the blue when I really needed it just before I got to Newcastle. And then he came all the way down to London to sort out my dodgy hip again for me.
“I could go on all day about the kindness I’ve been shown. But honestly, without all the messages online and people honking their horns in support I know I couldn’t have done this.”
Tony has undertaken some incredibly punishing running challenges for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation – including running 30 half marathons over 30 consecutive days and running for 24 hours – all carrying an enormous fridge. His ‘fridge-running’ has captured the imagination of thousands but this challenge, which is his last in the UK, has pushed him to the edge of his endurance.
Tony ran for around seven hours each day. His route through Scotland took him from John O’Groats to Inverness and over the Cairngorms, tackling ascents of 1,500 ft, then into Edinburgh.
He then ran south through his hometown of Newcastle upon Tyne and passed through County Durham, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.
After Leicester, he ran through Milton Keynes and London. Finally, he ran south west reaching the coast at Southampton and followed the coastline past Exeter to Land’s End.
In total, Tony carried his fridge for 1,009 miles. He initially planned to run a less direct and more picturesque route of 1,053 miles, but revised it after a fall to make it more direct.
He has a generous headline sponsor in Smeg, the premium domestic appliance brand, who have made this challenge possible. In addition, Smeg kindly supplied Tony’s bright orange FAB10 fridge and organised charity fundraising activities along the way.
Mike Giddings, managing director of Smeg UK, met Tony at Land’s End and greeted him with a £40,000 cheque for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Mike says: “Every year Smeg chooses a charity to support and as soon as we met Tony we really understood what he was about. It’s an honour and a privilege to support him raising order antabuse online uk money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and to watch him come over the finish line at Land’s End was a moving experience.
“The cause is such a strong one and we wanted to contribute and put something back to the communities we serve.
“The grit and determination shown by Tony is outstanding and we’re delighted to see him complete his impossible journey, overcoming so many challenges along the way to raise awareness and much needed funds.
“As a company we’re delighted to have made the challenge happen and facilitate Tony’s 1,000 mile journey. We’re grateful to be involved.”
Before he comes home to the North East, Tony will be doing one final, brief run with his fridge. This time, around the pitch at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road ground.
Ipswich are enthusiastic supporters of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and kindly offered Tony the opportunity for a ‘lap of honour’ ahead of their game against Middlesbrough on Saturday (14th September).
It will be a very fitting end to Tony’s time in the south of the country, not only given Sir Bobby’s connections with the Suffolk club, but because Middlesbrough Chairman Steve Gibson is a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Tony adds: “All that ever mattered to me was that I gave it my all. I have the most fantastic wife and family a man could wish for. Being parted from them, that’s been the hardest part of this.
“This is my last big UK fridge challenge. I’ve had thoughts about doing something overseas but this is it for me in this country. I’ll not be putting the fridge away just yet though. I’ll be doing a few shorter runs with it, including the Great North Run on Sunday.
“I’m very proud that my adventure has given people inspiration to try and push themselves. And hopefully I’ve helped a few people with cancer too. Certainly, I know the money raised for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation will do that.”
Sir Bobby’s son, Mark Robson, met up with Tony as he passed through London on Day 32.
Mark says: “Tony’s just incredible. I first met him last year at the Great North Run. I was just doing that run of course but he’d done 29 half marathons, one every day, before that one.
“What strikes me most about him is his mental strength. That kind of perseverance and determination is exceptional really.
“When I met up with him during this challenge he’d had a fall and was in a lot of pain. He was limping badly at that point but had no intention to give up.
“Anyone who has been kind enough to sponsor him will know he’s pushed himself to the limit to raise funds for the Foundation. Our thanks to Smeg for their great generosity and to everyone who has supported Tony over the last 41 days.”
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria, and which contribute significantly to international research into the disease.
For more information about Tony’s Smeg John O’Groats to Land’s End’s Endurance Challenge please visit via www.tonythefridge.com and on Twitter through @tony_the_fridge
If you would like to donate, please visit Tony’s Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Justgiving site. You can also donate by texting ‘FRID93 £5’ to 70070.