AS his fiftieth birthday approached, Alan Finnigan decided to set himself 50 challenges to mark the special occasion.

The scout leader from Moredon has worked his way through his list throughout the year, trying new things, testing his stamina and facing his fear of snakes.

He began one of the challenges at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day by trying the first of 50 different ales and is doing his best to finish every challenge by 11.59pm on New Year's Eve.

Alan explained how this all came together.

He said: "I wanted to do a challenge last year and found out about a 104km walk from Staines to Oxford for the British Heart Foundation.

"After I did that, people kept suggesting more events like Tough Mudder and two challenges quickly became 50.

"I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and do something more than a birthday party, it's not been easy or cheap but it's been fun.

"You always have these things in your mind that you really want to do but never get around to actually doing them.

"I've never had a tattoo done before but I got my son's and daughter's names tattooed on my leg.

"I've also started learning how to juggle, which has easily been the hardest thing to do so far."

He turned 50 on June 15 and has ticked off 22 challenges to date.

Some are straight-forward, like doing the Swindon Half-Marathon in fancy dress, some are nostalgic, like recreating photos from the past or making his mother's sponge pudding, while others are a little quirky, like the task of taking a small Thunderbirds figure he calls 'Little Alan' to 50 places and taking photos.

He said: "I get some funny looks from people but once I explain the reason behind Little Alan, they're happy to pose with him and every photo tells a story."

His scouts group 19th Swindon have helped him tick off several challenges, including a long overnight walk last month which raised £400 for the group.

Alan added: "I've dragged friends and family into doing some of them but everyone's been really supportive, it's been a very interesting year with plenty of memories.

"I've started writing a book about my 23 years in the scouts, there are so many funny stories from over the years that I've been meaning to write down.

"This is a special year so I wanted to make the most of it.

Alan has set up a website to chronicle his progress and will be doing a helicopter ride, white water rafting and more later this year.


The 50 challenges.

1) Get fit enough to take part in 100km hike and Tough mudder (started)

2) Complete 100km hike in 30 hours Staines to Oxford (complete)

3) Raise £400 sponsorship for the hike (complete)

4) Complete South West Tough Mudder

5) Still be playing football at 50 also to keep at least three clean sheets this year (one so far)( 3 games played on the Sunday after birthday)

6) Millennium walk (25 miles) over night with Scouts (complete)

7) Sort out Croyde Bay Lite (extended family) (complete)

8) Start my book (very early)

9) Give to charity (complete)

10) Buy a Big Issue

11) Make a birthday cake for Fiona (complete)

12) Send a message in a bottle (complete)

13) Give blood (complete)

14) Learn to Juggle (trying)

15) Use at least 25 forms of transport (ongoing)

16) Take part in a gym class

17) Recreate 5 photos from my past (started)

18) Wear a card that says your 50 today on my birthday (complete)

19) Get the model Thunderbird Alan photographed in at least 50 places (ongoing)

20) Read a classic book (complete)

21) Half marathon in fancy dress

22) Weekend trip to London with Fiona (complete)

23) Create a time capsule

24) Go to an England football game (booked)

25) A round of golf (complete)

26) Visit the theatre (complete)

27) Learn and serve a cocktail (complete)

28) Learn at least two new different knots

29) Visit a casino

30) At least 10 bike rides of at least 1 hour or more more (started)

31) Litter pick

32) Drink and record 50 different real ales (ongoing)

33) Spend an evening in the pub without feeling guilty

34) Apply for a TV programme (complete)

35) Helicopter ride

36) White water rafting

37) Run a Blog of the challenges (ongoing)

38) De-clutter (started)

39) Eat from ten different ethnic restaurants / take aways (ongoing)

40) Write a letter to my 70-year-old self (complete)

41) Host a wine tasting evening (booked)

42) Do something that scares me (hold a snake) (complete)

43) Go on a picnic

44) Start a fire without using matches

45) Introduce myself to at least 5 people on Facebook with my name (complete)

46) Create a steamed syrup sponge pudding like my mother used to make (complete)

47) Get a tattoo (complete)

48) Go horse racing (complete)

49) Take part in a dance class (complete)

50) Go on a hot air balloon Ride