Detlef Jenkins was told he may never walk again after seriously injuring his back.

He’s now thinking of walking from Swindon to London in 24 hours.

And that’s after just completing a gruelling 24-hour rowing challenge.

Detlef, 45, sat down on the seat of his rowing machine in the Brunel Centre in the town at 10am Thursday, and didn’t get up from it until 1am on Friday morning.

The father of three who lives in Old Town said: “I wanted to raise money for Cancer Research, the Friday was the fourth anniversary of my father’s death from an aneurysm and complications caused by cancer.

“I chose a 24 hour rowing challenge because I wanted a real challenge. Cancer is a massive challenge for anybody touched by it, whether they’re battling it themselves, or if it’s a family member of a friend. I’ve known people who’ve had cancer, I’ve lost people to cancer, and I know how hard it is.”

And, he says, the rowing was exactly that – a real challenge: “It was really tough. I’m a scout leader of Sixth Swindon Scouts and two years ago a couple of the leaders and I did a 24-hour cycling challenge, with bikes on turbo trainers. I found that a bit easy.

“I didn’t find the rowing easy. It was really challenging.”

Detlef, who trained with Buzz Gym for the event said he was helped by energy products supplied by Go Gym Stuff in the Brunel centre.

He said: “In the evening and night I took in a lot of supplements with caffeine in them, and I had music, I was singing along at the top of my voice, anything to keep me awake and keep me going really. The acoustics in the Brunel when it’s empty are amazing.”

Despite this there was a low point in the middle of the night, exactly around the time Detlef’s father Malcolm died four years ago: “My father passed away at 2.15 in the morning and between 2am and 3am I kept thinking I can’t carry on. But then I thought my dad wasn’t a quitter and neither am I.

“It got easier as I got towards the finish. I got off the machine and I was absolutely buzzing, I think it was adrenaline and endorphins. I didn’t sleep at all that night, I was so up.”

With a rapid stroke rate of 32 per minute, Detlef would have made 1920 strokes per hour (we’ll ignore the minute he took every hour as a break) and astonishing 46,000 rowing motions over the full 24 hours.

He said: “I’m sore in places I didn’t know you could be. My hands are okay, but my armpits are sore with the constant rowing motion, even though I put Vaseline in them. And my bum is stull numb despite the padded seat.”

But even now the determined fundraiser is planning his next challenge: “I’m thinking of doing a 24-hour walk. I’ve been told you can walk the Ridgeway from Swindon to London in 24 hours, so I’m looking forward to that.”

Currently Detlef has raised just over £600 towards a target of £2,000 in aid of Cancer Research UK, though a Just Giving page and a bucket collection in the Brunel which raised £110.