Malton retained firefighter Ian Orledge is planning a 10k fundraising walk, in full 22kg firefighting kit and breathing apparatus - just months after being diagnosed with both Crohn’s Disease AND Long Covid.

Ian, 30, who lives in Malton, had suffered from undiagnosed ‘tummy and toilet troubles’ since he was a boy of nine. He put up with the symptoms for years. “I don’t like going to the doctors!”he admitted.

But eventually, when he began to pass blood, he decided he’d better find out what was wrong.

In February last year, his doctor diagnosed Crohn’s - an inflammatory bowel disease that causes abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition, and which may be caused partly by the body’s own immune system.

It was a ‘huge relief’ to know what was causing his symptoms, Ian admitted. Crohn’s cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with the right medication. Ian and his doctor began searching for the right treatment.

But then, in April 2020, just two months after his diagnosis, Ian developed Covid. “It started with a really bad cough,” he said. “I also lost my sense of smell.”

It seemed to be getting better after a couple of weeks - then Ian noticed he was feeling constantly exhausted. The previously fit part-time firefighter was finding that on some days he could hardly walk up the stairs. Eventually Long Covid was diagnosed.

Ian was signed off his firefighting duties and his full-time job as a Yorkshire Water sewage technician for three months. But once he began to recover, he was determined to regain his fitness.

He started following the BBC’s ‘couch to 5k' fitness programme.

And on Saturday June 26th he’s planning to walk 10 kilometres in his full firefighting kit - complete with breathing apparatus - from Malton fire station to Amotherby and back to raise money for charity Crohn’s & Colitis UK.

He’s already built up to 6k, Ian said. “I got up at 5am this morning to do six kilometres!”

He'll be doing the walk on his own - though his wife Kyrie and children Casey and Layla (none of whom caught Covid) will be at Malton fire station to welcome him back. He's also hoping some of his firefighter colleagues will link up with him at points along the walk.

He set himself an initial target of raising £150. But he's already smashed through that, with £315 and counting.

Thanks to immuno-suppressants, his Crohn's is now under control. But he still hasn't fully recovered the sense of smell he lost as a result of Covid. That has at least one benefit, he jokes. His full-time job with Yorkshire Water involves unblocking sewers. "so the loss of smell is very useful!"

You can sponsor Ian on his Just Giving page: