Boot campers take a shine to fundraising

Tony Levene with the boot camp participants and helpers — before the going got tough

Tony Levene with the boot camp participants and helpers — before the going got tough

Fourteen men withstood the rigours of a boot camp in Liverpool to raise £6,000 towards research into a fatal genetic condition affecting a Jewish Manchester boy.

In a dark section of woods in Little Crosby, the men navigated assault courses in military-grade gas masks and ate raw fish in the early hours of the morning during a blind food tasting exercise. The white collar professionals were put through their paces by former Army captain Dan Searson, who commanded more than 500 soldiers during military operations in Iraq.

He does not do "wishy washy team building" and says his courses are tough enough to get young offenders back on track.

Participants included Tony Levene from Prestwich, whose six-year-old son Joey suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a muscle wasting condition leading to paralysis and early death. His One Can Make A Difference fund raises money for the charity Action Duchenne to conduct groundbreaking medical research towards a cure.

Steven Bookbinder guides a colleague through an assault course in darkest Liverpool

Steven Bookbinder guides a colleague through an assault course in darkest Liverpool

Mr Levene and Sigal Bar-Ilan from Whitefield ran the sponsored camp, which saw the men pitted against each other in 12 gruelling activities.

Paul Levy, 36, from Prestwich, confided that the hour-long circuit training had been hellish and he had much preferred the camouflage face-painting preparation. "But it's great to do a different type of event to raise money for such a good cause," he said.

Support for Joey and the charity also attracted Steven Bookbinder, a 37-year old medical device designer from Prestwich, who said the camp had been a "great experience and brought out good camaraderie and team building".

Mr Levene said the physical challenges highlighted "the little things we can all do which Joey can't.

"It's a race against time to find a cure. He just celebrated his sixth birthday and every year is tinged with sadness that it's another year less with him. But my wife and I feel blessed with Joey and our other two children and we're getting closer to a cure with human drug trials just starting."

One Can Make A Difference has raised more than £100,000 for research since 2007. Funds will be further boosted next month when women will have their own boot camp experience.

    Last updated: 11:16am, June 24 2011