A FORMER homeless man has set himself a challenge with a 2012 theme to raise money for charity.
Nick Robey, 41, a sales consultant at the Vauxhall garage in Sonning Common, will attempt to run 2,012 miles by competing in 20 races and through training runs.
He will compete in four marathons in London, New York, the Lake District and Portsmouth and four half marathons. He took part in the Wargrave 10km in June.
Mr Robey is raising money for Barnardo’s, the Teenage Cancer Trust, the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust and Naomi House children’s hospice.
He chose Barnardo’s because he was left homeless at age 18 when his parents’ house in Sonning Common was repossessed. He spent more than three years lodging with friends and family.
His father Reginald, 78, now lives in Southampton and his mother Susan died in 2010.
Mr Robey, who is one of eight children, said: “My parents meant a lot to me despite the repossession of the house.
“My dad was self-employed and his business idea didn’t work out and he couldn’t meet the repayments on the house. Obviously it was difficult because you haven’t got anywhere guaranteed to go home to. You just exist, as opposed to living.”
Mr Robey’s parents moved in with his eldest sister Deborah in Milton Keynes until they got a house through social services. He looked after sister Bex while their brother Dan moved in with another sibling.
“The younger children who were left homeless are all close now,” said Mr Robey.
“We got through it with difficulty. It was hard but I had a good set of friends who looked out for me.
“It was only when I was 22 that I purchased a house with Dan in Caversham. Ironically, we bought a repossessed house so it was cheaper.”
Mr Robey now lives in Mayfield Drive, Caversham, with his wife Jeannie, 41, a manager at John Lewis. They have two children, Josh, 21, who is at university, and Hannah, 19, a performing arts student at The Henley College.
In 2009, he raised £6,000 for Barnardo’s by running the London Marathon. The following year, he took part again, dressed as Fred Flintstone with friend Jason Barratt dressed as Wilma, and raised £5,600.
Mr Robey said: “I rediscovered the love of running from my school days and was pleased to help raise money for such a worthy cause.
“I enjoy making a difference to other people’s lives. I always think there are people in the world in a worse situation than I was at age 18.”
To make a donation, visit www.olympicnick.com