FIREMAN Mark Evans spent hours putting his strength to good use as he carried a 90kg yoke to raise money for friend who was left paralysed after a freak paddling pool accident.

Mark, who is a retained fireman in Corsham and works for the MOD, is raising cash to help remodel the Chippenham home of strongman Simon Cooper who is unable to move from the neck down.

He slipped in a paddling pool on May 29 at a relative’s home in Hampshire and he is still in hospital in Southampton.

Simon, 41, who is a father of two and has served nearly 20 years in the Army, was recently named Chippenham’s strongest man.

But now he does not know what the future holds and Go Fund Me page has been set up to help him and his family.

His brother Michael, who set up the fund, said: “Simon joined the Army after school and has served nearly 20 years for his country and for his friends and family.

“His wife Leanne and kids Lee, 18, and Abbie, 18, are very proud of him as are all his friends and family.”

Leanne and Abbie visited Mark’s home to welcome him to the finish line behind his home in Corsham.

Mark said: “It was much harder that I thought it was going to be. I could hardly moved afterwards but I wanted to do something for Simon.

“He is a really inspirational bloke who I first men at a gym in Colerne. He is one of those people who always looks on the bright side no matter what.

“I haven’t been able to visit him in hospital because of coronavirus but I am told he is in good spirits.

“We want to raise as much money as possible so that he can come home as soon as possible. I wore a dodgy t-shirt during the challenge as Simone has a slightly dodgy taste in clothes.”

He carried the yoke with its hugely heavy weight balanced on his shoulder for 5.6 miles which is the distance between his home in Corsham and Simon’s in Chippenham but did not leave the road at the back of his home.

He had expected it to take about five hours but he completed it in around four as he decided it was easier to keep going rather than taking regular breaks.

He said: “I just wanted to finish. Simon is the strongest man I know and so I wanted to do something that I know he would approve of.

“When I was first told what had happened to him I couldn’t believe it.”

Michael said: “Since Simon’s accident, he has been overwhelmed with support from his friends and family and we wish to use this gofundme idea as a way to modify this house so he can be home after his recovery.

“We know £100,000 is a big target but we all love him and want his life to be as best it can given this tragic accident has robbed him use of his body.” Go to