December 3, 2019 11.22 am This story is over 47 months old

Lincoln man climbs mountain with rowing machine on his shoulders in friend’s memory

He is now undertaking a gruelling 24-hour gym challenge

A personal trainer from Lincoln defied the odds to climb England’s highest mountain with a rowing machine on his shoulders, and is now part way through a 24-hour gym challenge as he continues to raise money in his friend’s memory.

Brad Thornton, 24, was friends with James ‘Jim’ Walker, 23, since their school days for 12-13 years.  Brad was left shocked by the news that James took his own life last month, and wants to encourage others to speak out if they need help.

Brad has so far raised over £18,000 through his Just Giving page and different fundraising challenges, including the daring mountain climb, for the mental health charity Mind.

Thousands of pounds has already been raised in James Walker’s memory.


Brad Thornton and a team of around 40 people conquered Scafell Pike in memory of their friend James Walker, who took his own life in November. Photo: DS Media

Brad and around 40 other people, including players from Lincoln and Scunthorpe rugby clubs, climbed Scafell Pike on Saturday, November 30, which took around six hours to go up and down.

The 24-year-old had the extra challenge of, not only carrying a rowing machine on his shoulders, but also rowing 10,000 metres when he reached the top.

Brad, who has previously battled his own personal mental health demons, told The Lincolnite he couldn’t have done it alone and was grateful for all the support.

It was a challenging climb, but Brad and his team completed the challenge. Photo: DS Media

Personal trainer Brad Thornton did the challenge in memory of his friend James Walker. Photo: DS Media

He said: “It went really well. I literally stormed up the mountain. I had so much focus, drive and energy and felt like I had Jim pushing me up the whole way.

“Don’t get me wrong, it was very very tough and hard, but there was not one moment where I let a negative thought creep into my head, as it isn’t going to serve me at all, and the same applies in life. Try your best not to grab onto the negative thoughts because they just don’t serve you.

“The hardest part was probably closer to the top where it was really icy and rocky, but there was still no doubt in my mind that I wasn’t going to get there.”

Brad said he felt like he had Jim pushing him up the whole way. Photo: DS Media

Ben Sykes, who played with James at Lincoln Rugby Club, also took part in the climb and he said: “It really was a momentous day. Everyone was in high spirits and I’m really happy that I could be part of it. Brad, Ayesha and Dan did an amazing job of organising the day in James’ memory.”

The challenge was filmed by DS Media – see how Brad and his team got on below:

On Sunday, a raffle draw was held at Craft in Lincoln, with thousands of pounds worth of prizes that had been donated, to raise more money for the cause.

James Walker was loved by so many people. Photo: DS Media

Brad Thornton and his team. Photo: DS Media

Gym challenge

Brad Thornton is part way through a 24 hour gym challenge, including rowing 10k every hour for 23 hours. Photo: DS Media

Brad didn’t have much time to rest from climbing Scafell Pike and remarkably found more mental and physical strength to embark on his next challenge.

Every hour on the hour Brad is rowing 10k at Warehouse Strength & Conditioning in Lincoln. The owner Ross Burns is skiing 10k, with both doing this 23 times in memory of James’ age.

The challenge started at 8pm on Monday and will run until the same time on Tuesday, December 3.

Gym owner Ross Burns is skiing 10k 23 times in 23 hours. Photo: DS Media

In the final hour they will do a ‘mad group workout’ that everyone is welcome to join in with, in which they will be doing 23 burpees, 23 press ups and 23 box jumps.

People will be coming in throughout the 24 hours to join in and help get up to the 230,000 metres.

Further fundraising has taken place including James’ girlfriend Charlotte Talbot raising over £6,000 for Mind, as well as Scunthorpe Rugby Club so far raising more than £10,000.