Martial arts experts launch four-year challenge to help Sunderland charity

Owen Murray and Harry Johnson (L) are to begin on a four year charity challenge
Owen Murray and Harry Johnson (L) are to begin on a four year charity challenge

A pair of martial arts experts will kick off a four-year fundraising campaign for a Wearside children’s charity as they scale three of Yorkshire’s highest hills.

Self-proclaimed ‘bionic man’ Owen Murray MBE and friend Harry Johnson, both from Sunderland, have pledged to support Hope4Kidz by undertaking four punishing challenges.

Owen Murray and Harry Johnson (L) are to begin on a four year charity challenge

Owen Murray and Harry Johnson (L) are to begin on a four year charity challenge

Owen, 65, has only one arm having lost his left hand in an industrial accident at the age of 20.

With one planned each year until 2019, the pair hope to raise as much money as possible for the organisation, which makes a difference to the lives of youngsters with life-limiting illnesses, special needs or who are living in poverty.

Episode One is a three-part challenge, which will begin today with the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge where they will tackle peaks Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in under 12 hours.

This will be followed by The Lyke Wake Walk which is a 40-mile walk across the entire North Yorkshire Moors on July 11 and then the pair will walk Hadrian’s Wall early in August, covering a total of 141 miles and an ascent of 16,059ft.

We decided to use these challenges to raise money for a good cause and chose Hope 4 Kidz because it’s a Sunderland charity close to our hearts.

Owen Murray

Next year they will take on the Three Peaks West Coast and the Pennine Way and then in 2018 will walk the 1,200 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats.

The biggest challenge of all will be in 2019 when they cover the 2,500-mile Great Wall of China.

Shortly after his accident, Owen took up karate and within 10 years had become one of a handful of black belts in the North East and a member of the England squad.

With numerous medals and accolades including two European Championship golds and a World Championship bronze, he has spent 20 years working alongside people with disabilities, receiving the MBE for his hard work in 1994.

Harry is an ex-reservist airborne soldier who is a 1st Dan Ju Jitsu instructor.

Now 60, he reached the British Kick Boxing Finals in 1984 and has been friends with Owen for more than 40 years having met through martial arts.

“We’ve been friends and trained together ever since and are always looking for new ways to push ourselves,” explained Owen, of South Hylton.

“After a few drinks one night we decided to give ourselves this first challenge and before we knew it we’d increased to four challenges for four years.

“We decided to use these challenges to raise money for a good cause and chose Hope 4 Kidz because it’s a Sunderland charity close to our hearts.”

Viv Watts of Hope 4 Kidz added: “We were thrilled when Owen got in touch with us and explained he wanted to do this.

They’re both incredibly fit and very inspirational characters and we’re delighted to have them on board.”

To support Owen and Harry visit the Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Owen-Murray.