PUBLISHED: 12:42 11 April 2008 | UPDATED: 15:06 20 February 2013
Rainham's Lloyd Scott is famed as a dedicated fundraiser. Damian Brandy looks at his eccentric challenges and how he rose to fame through his exploits at the London Marathon
FOR most people, running the London Marathon is a once in a lifetime achievement. A personal triumph of will, determination and passion over 26 arduous miles, often brought about by a will to want to give something back. For the 35,000 or so charity runners representing hundreds of worthy causes every year, their stories may differ but they share common intentions.
'It's about giving when you expect not to receive. It's about life. It's about hope,' explains Lloyd Scott, and he should know. Lloyd, a Rainham resident, became famous when he completed the London Marathon in an old-style deep-sea divers suit.
But that was not a one-off. Lloyd has completed more than a dozen marathons (one of which was at the bottom of Loch Ness), ridden across some of the most arid landscape on earth non-stop for 50 days and dressed as Sherlock Holmes before walking to both the North and South Poles - and all in the name of charity.
Lloyd is now one of the UK's most celebrated charity fundraisers, having raised well in excess of £4 million for a number of causes over the last two decades, in challenges that have bordered on the very limit of human tolerance. Though his cordial nature and devotion to family life in Rainham and his three children would have you believe otherwise, Lloyd is a remarkable man.
'I've dedicated most of my adult life to fundraising and it has given me more pleasure than I could ever imagine,' Lloyd discloses. 'I enjoy the attention it brings, but only to a point. The important thing is my charities are being supported. I'm not interested in chasing a celebrity lifestyle, that's not what it's about. Being awarded an MBE was one of the proudest moments of my life, but it's not about fame or recognition. It's about people. My family and friends are my rock so I make sure I keep them at the centre of my plans.'
Learning to prioritise the important things in life and overcome its challenges was a skill Lloyd had to develop as a man in his mid twenties; a surprise diagnosis of Leukaemia while in hospital being treated for the after effects of smoke inhalation, signified a defining moment in his life.
'I was working as a fireman at the time, based at Dagenham. I was attending a fire and in the process of rescuing a young boy. Unfortunately I had to be admitted to hospital having inhaled dangerous amounts of smoke, but routine tests revealed something more sinister. Shortly afterwards I was diagnosed with Leukaemia.
At 27, married and with plans for a child, Lloyd's life had changed irrevocably. Amazingly, he ran the London Marathon that year, an event he has continued to compete in and has since become celebrated for. Treatment came sooner than he could have hoped; a donor match was found in the autumn of 1985 and the transplant was a success. Lloyd was free of the illness that threatened to destroy what should have been the best years of his life. But as is so often the case when faced with the real prospect of death, life takes on a whole new meaning.
'Everybody deals with what life throws at them in different ways. I don't look down on anyone who chooses to walk away from an illness like this and try to erase that period of their life from their memory. That's a natural reaction. But I feel compelled to give something back.
'I remember feeling that all I needed was to be reassured that there was hope for me. It gave me amazing energy, just to know that, however slim, however hazardous or perilous, there is a chance I'd make it through this and be able to one day put all this to one side. I just felt that as long as I had hope of some kind, then it would give me the strength to carry on, and to continue living as normal a life as I possibly could.'
Ironically, Lloyd's life seems as far from normal as you could imagine. He possesses a zest and energy most of us could barely envisage. It's not altogether clear whether he was born with an innate sense of competitiveness or whether he developed it post diagnosis. Either way his appetite for life is as explicit as his marathon paraphernalia. Lloyd reveals the reasons for his obsessive quest for bigger and better challenges stems from his own perceived lack of natural ability for anything in particular (despite the fact that he played county level schoolboy cricket and played professional football) which fuels an insatiable appetite for hard work and achievement.
'I don't really think I was born with huge amounts of talent so I suppose I've always been a pretty intense person. With commitment and determination a person can achieve anything. I'm just doing what I think I'm here to do.'
At last year's London Marathon Lloyd ran as Indiana Jones, chased by a 300-pound boulder in a scene straight from Raiders of the Lost Ark, raising money for Children with Leukaemia and on behalf of Essex-based charity First Step, an organisation committed to raising money for young children and their families whose lives have been affected by illness, both causes very close to his heart.
Fittingly, Lloyd ran this year's race in a giant robot outfit that towered above most other runners and once again drew maximum attention to himself, and his cause, which this year was the Autism Trust.
'I'd like to finish my racing days with a flourish,' he reveals. 'I've only got another year left in me after this, so I'd like to leave a mark. Having run a dozen London Marathons, I think it's time to start finding other ways to help.'
After Lloyd received his MBE in 2005 he joked that it stood for 'mad bloody eccentric', but maybe mad should stand for 'making a difference'.