Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 23.03.21A Catterick veteran has been identified as one of the most successful JustGiving fundraisers of 2015…. and this year he intends doing even better!

Former army postal courier Justin Henderson broke his back in a freak accident and had to leave his army career just months after being promoted to Sergeant. With a prosthetic vertebrae and limited mobility, he struggled to imagine what life beyond the military would entail.

But Help for Heroes opened many doors for the father of two and, having been grant-funded a recumbent bike by the Charity, Justin set himself a target to get fit enough to take part in the 2015 Hero Ride from Catterick to Windsor.

To do so though, he had to raise £1,000 to secure his place. With permission to collect at various local venues, including shopping centres, supermarkets and even motorway services, Justin spent every spare minute he had publicising his challenge by setting up his recumbent trike turbo trainer and pedalling away while promoting the support given by Help for Heroes to him and hundreds of other wounded, injured and sick servicemen, women, veterans and their families.

And when he reached is £1k target, he changed it to £2k, then £3k…. and just kept on going! Thanks to the generosity of shoppers plus a mystery benefactor who learned of his story via social media website Facebook he had raised a fantastic £3,665 before he even pushed the first pedal on his longest bike ride ever – 308 miles- to the finishing line at Windsor racecourse.

His achievement earned him a message from JustGiving, the website through which he had encouraged sponsorship and donations. It said that exceeding his original target by 266.5pc had put Justin in the top 1pc of it 532,141 fundraisers in 2015.

This success has inspired Justin to go even further this year – both in miles and amount raised. He has been given a place on the Help for Heroes Big Battlefield Bike Ride in June – 350 miles over 5 days following the story of the Western Front in Northern France, starting in Ypres and finishing in Verdun.

And, although he only began fundraising in earnest back in August, Justin has already surpassed his original aim of £4,000 and moved the goalposts on more than one occasion. His target now stands at £10,000 and, with pitches secured at all four entrances of the Metro Centre in Gateshead on Saturday April 2 from 9am to 5pm and permission to erect his recumbent trike outside York’s Bettys Café tea room in St Helen’s Square on the Saturday of May Day bank holiday weekend, there is little doubt that Justin will achieve his aim.

“I am like a dog with a bone – once I get hold of an idea, I just run with it and keep on running for as long as I can,” said 40-year-old Justin who now works part-time on the reception desk at Help for Heroes northern Recovery Centre in Catterick.

“And the great thing is that, at the same time as fundraising, I am getting in a lot of training at the same time. On a good day, I can pedal up to 40-60 miles AND chat to the generous passing public at the same time!”