Simon skips to the loo – literally

Simon Bramwell is literally skipping to the loo – with a keep-fit marathon to raise funds for lifesaving lavatories.

The father-of-two from New Malden has set himself the ambitious target of completing half-a-million skips in a year. Eight months in, he’s already clocked up more than 300,000 turns of the rope and raised more than £1,000.

Simon, 42, is raising funds for Toilet Twinning, a quirky campaign which helps provide proper loos, clean water and hygiene training in some of the poorest communities in the world. It invites people to ‘twin’ their loo at home with a latrine overseas: in return for a one-off £60 donation, people receive a certificate showing their toilet twin to display in their smallest room.

‘I’ve had a few days off for muscle strain, but basically I’ve skipped every day since January 1 and, if I can finish before Christmas, I can enjoy my turkey,’ says Simon. ‘I’m counting in my head so it’s a good mental discipline too. People will have to trust me on the numbers!’

His regime involves 1,500 skips a day, which takes about 11 minutes squeezed into a busy schedule. Until July, he was a French teacher and was sometimes seen skipping around the school grounds. On a bad day, he’s been known to be skipping at midnight. ‘My daughter is pretty pleased with my skipping because if I do it around teatime she gets to watch two episodes of Octonauts on TV,’ says Simon.

In July, he skipped in six countries within 48 hours as the family drove back from his wife Dala’s native Hungary: Hungary, Austria, Germany, Belgium, France and UK. ‘I attracted a few strange looks, but nothing new there!’

Simon’s Skipathon coincides with a pivotal point in his life: he’s just left his teaching job and is about to embark on a theology degree. One of the catalysts for this move was a six-week visit last year to Madagascar where Dala worked in a mission hospital: Simon describes it as a ‘powerful experience’. He was particularly moved by watching a disabled man with withered legs having to drag himself across the ground, through the dirt, to go to a pit latrine.

‘We realised how fundamental it is to have somewhere safe to go to the toilet: it’s something we take completely for granted,’ says Simon. ‘I’d seen Toilet twinning certificates in people’s loos and I liked the idea because there’s something very concrete about funding a toilet. You can even look up your toilet twin on Google Maps. I’m not a typical fitness fanatic but I like a challenge and it’s for a good cause.’

Toilet Twinning CEO Lorraine Kingsley says: ‘We’ve had people doing some pretty crazy things for us before now, but this is a new one on us! Simon’s such a good sport and a brilliant ambassador in raising awareness about why a simple toilet can literally save lives in poor communities like those he’s visited.’

To sponsor Simon, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SimonBramwellskipathon Find out more at www.toilettwinning.org