DAMHA Compliance Officer Stuart Hinde achieved two goals when he completed his first marathon – boosting his own health and raising funds for a charity that cares for people at their lowest ebb.
Stuart, 43, completed the Yorkshire Marathon in October, just a few months after taking up running.
“At the beginning of the year I was quite unwell physically, and that was getting me down mentally,” said Stuart. “This gave me something to focus on.”
In his role with DAMHA, Stuart is used to drawing up rolling plans to ensure properties are safe for residents, including checks on gas and electricity, smoke alarms and meeting a host of other safety regulations.
So, he put these skills to work in drawing up a 20-week plan to get him fit for a marathon with four training runs a week round his home area of Chester-le-Street.
“I always ran solo and found it was a good way of clearing my head,” said Stuart. “Having got fit enough to run a marathon I then decided I should do it to raise funds for a good cause.”
He chose the local group ifucareshare.co.uk/ which provides a range of services preventing suicide and supporting those impacted by it.
“There are lots of good causes out there and I felt anything I raised would bring bigger benefit to a small local charity,” said Stuart.
With the support of wife Katie and children Shannon, 23, Bethany, 20, and Lennon, 17, Stuart completed his training programme and finished the Marathon in just over four hours – burning off 4,000 calories in the process.
“I’ve lost two stone, feel fitter and much better all round,” said Stuart. “I’ve had to buy a new set of clothes which my wife is happy with because she works for British Heart Foundation so all my old stuff goes there.”
A gas engineer by trade, Stuart spent ten years helping with the roll-out of smart meters before taking a post as an instructor and assessor with a Sheffield company with a patch stretching from the Scottish borders to Liverpool.
“The travelling just became too much and I stumbled on the advert for compliance officer with DAMHA,” said Stuart. “I’m so pleased that I did because there’s something special about this place and I hope to stay here until retirement.”
He added: “It is challenging but in a good way and I enjoy getting out and meeting the residents. I’m developing policies that will hopefully stand the test of time.”
Stuart has been working recently on smoke alarms specially designed for the hard of hearing. “It is very rewarding to go to work each day knowing you are helping to keep people safe in their homes,” he said.
Outside of work Stuart prefers a city break to a beach holiday and has plans to visit Belfast, Krakow and Berlin. And he’s also not ashamed to confess he enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons and painting figurines.
“I think once the superman actor Henry Cavill revealed it is his hobby we didn’t have to hide anymore!” jokes Stuart.
“I find it very relaxing being tucked away in my room, listening to a podcast and painting some Lord of the Rings character.”