A washing machine belonging to a man who completes challenges for charity with it strapped to his back, has been stolen.

During the last 20 years, Martin Realey has raised more than £200,000 for charity and most recently completed the Oxford Half while carrying the machine.

The former parachute regiment officer is no stranger to bearing heavy weights, during his seven operational tours of Afghanistan and Iraq it was not unusual for him to carry in excess of 130lb while patrolling.

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Last week, Mr Realey discovered that his specialist washing machine - which was adapted with strengthened shoulder straps and welded brackets - had been stolen from outside his home in Wantage.

Herald Series: Martin Realey undertaking a charity challenge. Picture: Martin RealeyMartin Realey undertaking a charity challenge. Picture: Martin Realey

The 44-year-old who lives on Little Court, just off Wolage Drive, in the town believes the washing machine was mistakenly picked up by a scrap wagon.

At the weekend, the charity hero took to social media to see if he could recover his specialist washer ahead of his next challenge: climbing Britain’s three highest mountain peaks in May 2023.

The fundraiser is also keen to get his washing machine back because his exploits with it saw him raise more than £7,000 for charity in 2021.

Herald Series: The machine was taken from outside his house in Wantage. Picture: Martin RealeyThe machine was taken from outside his house in Wantage. Picture: Martin Realey

Mr Realey shared information about the incident on the Wantage and Grove Community Facebook group and was left “amazed” and “overwhelmed” by the response.

Strangers offered to supply Mr Realey with replacement washing machines, welders volunteered to adapt another one for him and one person offered £100 to buy the specialist straps he needs to help carry it.

“It has been amazing. There have been over 100 comments and shares on the post, from right across the world, with lots of information about vans stealing scrap metal off of front lawns.

“Lots of people also praised the work I have been doing for charity,” he told the Oxford Mail.

Mr Realey added that the response demonstrates “what an amazing community spirit Oxfordshire has”.

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Herald Series: Martin Realey has raised more than £200,000 for charity. Picture: Martin RealeyMartin Realey has raised more than £200,000 for charity. Picture: Martin Realey

Despite the missing washing machine, Mr Realey is still planning for his mountainous next challenge - which will raise funds for SSNAP – and he is eager to get more volunteers on-board.

He clarified there is “no necessity to carry any white goods” while tackling the three peaks.  

“Is this something you think you could prepare for and join the team? Because they would absolutely love to have you on board, raising the profile of the magnificent charity whilst also gleaning hugely valuable funds for our very own John Radcliffe‘s neonatal unit and the wonderful NHS staff that work there,” he explained.


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This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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