A Worksop man who battled against the odds to run marathons for charity – despite being told he would never walk again after a traffic accident left him disabled - has been recognised with a national honour.
Tony Eaton, 62, has been selected to receive a British Citizen Award (BCA) for his services to volunteering and charitable giving, after being nominated by his wife, julie.
Now entering their second year, the British Citizen Awards in partnership with InMoment, were launched in January 2015 to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society.
Mr Eaton has worked tirelessly for a number of charities over the past 30 years, including Cancer Research UK, Macmillan, the British Heart Foundation, Parkinson’s Disease and Help for Heroes, raising tens of thousands of pounds.
This has been achieved despite the fact that Tony has been disabled since 1979, after a lorry driver who was over the drink-drive limit hit his vehicle and was told he would never walk or work again.
Over the next few years, Tony gradually learned to walk again and since the accident, he has endured more than 36 operations, but has never let his injuries or disability get in his way.
Speaking about his nomination, Mr Eaton said: “When I first found out I had been chosen to receive an award I thought it was genuinely a wind up. I was absolutely shocked and very surprised to have been awarded, and it is an absolute honour. I try and keep my head down, as I don’t do it for the credit or reward, but it is a huge honour for both myself and my family, who have been huge fundraisers with me, as I drag them along.”
Mr Eaton recently retired from his role as a Major in Nottinghamshire Army cadet force, where he worked with young adults and young children.
He is in full-time employment as a regional manager for Help for Heroes and previously volunteered as an Ambulance first responder. He was also the local neighbourhood coordinator and still helps out the old and infirm in his patch.
“I have been disabled for a very long time, and I vowed that once I had recovered sufficiently enough from my injuries I would give something back to those that helped me,” Mr Eaton said.
“I was told I would probably never walk again, but after two-and-a-half years I had learnt to walk again and got involved in fundraising walks and runs.
“I spent an awful lot of time in hospital, and I am extremely thankful to all of the people who helped keep me alive and get me back on their feet and that kept me going. One way in which I give back is through giving blood, and I have donated 87 pints so far. I will keep donating as long as I can, and I am aiming to reach at least 100 pints.”
The generous fundraiser is one of 33 medallists who will be honoured at a prestigious ceremony on January 28, at the Palace of Westminster. Successful medallists are selected from public nominations by a panel of independent assessors.
Tony’ wife Julie said: “Tony has always put others first, helping anyone in need. He works long hours and works very hard, raising money for charity and helping the local community.
“Many local wounded soldiers and their families have benefited from Tony’s fundraising. He regularly speaks to families that have lost soldiers in the conflicts or have been wounded and he helps them with fundraising.
“Tony is also asked regularly to speak at charity fundraising events and also attends local wreath laying ceremonies.
Julie added: “Tony does not moan about life despite being disabled. He has a lot of constant pain but keeps working long hours for charity and his community. He is always there for the old and the vulnerable in the community. The general public in our local community think highly of him.”
All BCA recipients have positively impacted society by undertaking various activities in support of a number of causes. Each will receive a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words ‘For the Good of the Country’. Medallists are also invited to use the initials BCA after their name.
Alison Eddy, Irwin Mitchell regional managing partner, said: “At Irwin Mitchell, we are proud to be continuing our support of the British Citizen Awards. I personally attended the award ceremony in July and was humbled by the stories that I heard on the day. There are so many incredible people doing life-changing things for others, and it’s great they are being recognised by the British Citizen Awards.”