The presenter managed to break the record for his charity challenge, despite his longest training run being only 8 miles. He started his journey on Tuesday morning and finally arrived at Bolton Wanderers Stadium today at 10.30am, an hour later than planned, after he had set off at 5.45am this morning.
His parents Gladys and Norman, along with many family members, were there to greet him as he reached the finish line and prepared for an ice bath. Vernon, aged 49, became emotional when he met listener Barbara, who had written him a touching letter about how his Radio 2 show had “brought an old lady into the light”.
Speaking to Zoe Ball, he said: “I am absolutely exhausted – physically, mentally, there’s nothing in the tank. But it’s been unbelievable – one of the most painful and joyous experiences I’ve ever had.”
He jokingly asked the crowd: “Is there anyone here who can replace a knee?” Overcome with emotion, he shared that the best part was hearing stories from those who had donated, including one person who could only afford £1.15 but gave it anyway. “We’ve met some brilliant people who have donated what they can.”
He said that he wouldn’t have made it without the team of fitness experts, including marines, who did it with him, laughing: “If it wasn’t for you we’d still be in Leicester.” When Zoe Ball told him they had brought Barbara the letter-writer to meet him, after listeners started a ‘Bring Barbara to Bolton’ hashtag, he said tearfully: “Tess has had it framed.
“It’s in the kitchen and I walk past it every day. It brings me into the sunshine – I will cherish it forever.”
He said the toughest part of the four days had been the eight-hour walk over Kinder Scout. “I never want to see that hill again,” he admitted.
When Zoe told him the total had come to £4,014,362 he declared: “That’s made it all worthwhile. The pain has lessened! I can’t thank everyone enough. We’ve heard some heartfelt stories and it’s been an emotional rollercoaster but it’s been blimin’ worth it.”
His mother told Ball: “What’s got to me the most is all these people showing him all this affection. I’m his mother and I know he deserves it.”
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