Hero of the Month September 2019
Our heroes and us had a little break over the summer, but now we are back and fighting fit ready to introduce to you our September hero Gus Mckechnie.
Each month we celebrate the weird and wonderful, from people who are key fundraisers in their community, to people with the coolest jobs. People that go outside the norm, swim against the shoal if you will, and do something fun or extraordinary.
This month we have teamed up with the Ordnance Survey to help promote National GetOutside Day 29th September, and it made perfect sense to nominate a member of their staff who has broken not one but two World Records, and raised over £2 million for good causes over the years, despite being born with cerebral palsy.
How long have you worked for Ordnance Survey?
I first worked for OS on a temporary contract 2003 to 2004, but I left and came back permanently in 2015, so four years.
What does your job for the OS entail?
I’m a customer services adviser. We have to deal with a wide range of customer inquiries that can be very technical to where to find the best information.
Have you always been an outdoorsy person?
My parents, especially my Dad always encouraged me to be outdoorsy. I used to love going on walks with him in our village Broadmayne when I was a child, and in Prestwick in Scotland. He used to take me fishing and I did sports like archery when I was younger. I have done and contributed to a number of team sports.
How has your disability held you back when it comes to doing the things you love?
It hasn’t held me back but it has forced me to adapt. When I wanted to do something that someone said I couldn’t or shouldn’t do it made me more determined.
I used to pass out and experience pain if I didn’t move when I was young but since moving to Southampton I have participated in over forty different sports teams.
Could you tell us a bit more about how you broke two World Records?
I used to like indoor rowing and after a period struggling with mental health issues, and after the passing of my Mum, I wanted to see how tough my mind was. I set myself the challenge of rowing on a machine for 24 hours. A bit later I rowed for 100km on a machine as well. At that time it led to me holding two disability world records.
Also over 10 years I have cycled over a 100,000 miles on a stationary bike on Red Funnel ferries. I’ve completed 13 marathons, and set a rowing first for someone with a disability going around the Isle of Wight & Hayling Island.
How do you keep pushing through these difficult challenges, mentally and physically?
Depends what the focus has been at the start. Some of the challenges were in memory of my mum, dad and brother. Others were about clearing my mind and setting a rhythm. Others I had the help of some amazing friends.
What do you think has been the hardest challenge in your life?
I have a curvature of the spine which can effect the power to my legs. I did the New York Marathon a couple of weeks after my mum died from cancer at home when I was with her, mentally that was one of the hardest challenges.
The Isle of Wight row was really tough physically as we were doing it a way that had never had been done before.
Do you have any more challenges planned for the future?
I’m looking at challenges for next year which will be my 25th year contributing to sport and the community in Southampton.
I’m looking at potentially entering the Ironman 70.3 and a Kilimanjaro climb too.
What is your favourite way to spend a weekend?
Love being in Dorset where I come from. Some weekends I will start with Parkrun on a Saturday and then wheelchair rugby. I will find a sport to do on the Sunday. I’m currently training to become a American Football ref.
How will you be spending National GetOutside Day this year?
A walk along the river Itchen in Southampton.
To find out more about Gus and his incredible fundraising you can read more about him on the OS website.
We have been completely inspired by Gus and all the things he does. We are going to take a leaf out of his book and make sure we get out and about for a walk, a row or to play some sport this National GetOutside Day - 29th September.