In 2009, Martin Symons, who can barely walk 50 metres and needs a ventilator eight hours a day to stay alive, drove his ‘Boma’ (a battery powered off-road wheelchair) across England raising money for the nation’s leading respiratory unit.

He thought this would be his final challenge as he had just recovered after eight years of severe respiratory collapse.

Today, nearly 10 years on and with a number of further ‘final challenges’ under his belt, Martin plans to re-visit Hadrian’s Wall and re-cross England in his ‘Boma’.

Starting in the last week of June 2019, he will ride ‘Coast to Coast’ from Bowness-on-Solway to South Shields, following 105 miles of the Hadrian’s Wall cycle route.

Martin, who is 52, will be raising funds for the Lane Fox Respiratory Unit Patients’ Association at St Thomas’s Hospital, Scoliosis Association UK and Cancer Research UK.

He will also be raising awareness of a large event he helps to organise – Norfolk Disability Pride – being held in and around The Forum, Norwich, on Sunday 29 September 2019.

Martin has a rare condition called Klippel-Feil Syndrome which creates a fusion in the cervical spine. Depending on the area of fusion, there can be related congenital conditions.

In Martin’s case, he was born with a cleft palate, hearing loss, under-bite, short neck with webbing, painless restriction of cervical movement, scoliosis, kyphosis and a non-severe aplastic anemia.

Martin’s whole life has been a challenge, but he has never let his condition deter him from tackling journeys which would be a struggle for most able bodied people. He has already attempted to trek to Everest Base Camp, summited Ben Nevis and Snowdon, and canoed down the River Miño in Spain, raising many thousands for charity.

However, he is now less able to trek or canoe and the physical aspects of these activities are now beyond him. Please visit Martin’s website for more information:

Martin’s body may be weak, but his spirit and determination remain unbowed.

The Boma

In 2004 Chris Swift, along with a group of wheelchair users, started developing a wheelchair that embodies the adventurous outdoor spirit. Their company, Molten Rock, created the ‘Boma’, a fantastic off-road wheelchair. Molten Rock loaned Martin a Boma for his 2009 challenge and he subsequently acquired his own machine. This has carried him on many adventures over the last few years. Molten Rock has been taken over by Equal Adventure who now make the Boma 7.

The Challenge

Martin will cross England from Bowness-on-Solway in the west to South Shields in the east, 105 miles from coast to coast. He will spend three to four hours in the ‘saddle’ each day covering between 17 and 24 miles. The journey will take him seven days. He will require a full eight hours on his respirator each night to recover enough strength for the following day’s adventure.

Documentary Film

Lou Hamilton from Create Lab along with Paul Lang as cameraman, produced an award-winning documentary ‘Being Martin’ about Martin’s life and the 2009 Coast to Coast Challenge. A short version can be viewed at here Being Martin.

Please support Martin in this challenging journey and help raise funds for his chosen charities.

To contact Martin:

To support his Coast to Coast Challenge: