A MAN dressed in full ice hockey gear has become a familiar sight at the top of Grains Bar.
Every day, Dave Fairbrother leaves his home on Ripponden Road for a nine kilometre walk – complete with stick and helmet. Skates are the only missing piece of kit.
He has pledged to continue his unusual hike as long as the country remains in lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak
Dave, known to many as ‘Big Dave’, is a passionate fan of ice hockey and Manchester Storm in particular.
But his reasons for dressing up like Wayne Gretzky or Matt Ginn run deeper than the enjoyment of a customary punch-up or watching a puck fly around at 100 miles per hour.
Dave, 51, is raising money and awareness for a mental health charity started by his good friend Michael Lacy.
Patch Amnesty was set up in April 2019 with funds raised from the selling of blades and patches at musical festivals and other events.
Now Dave is set to add his own contribution from his hockey walks around Saddleworth.
“Michael does a good job, we like the same kind of music and I have had my own issues in the past with mental illness,” Dave explained.
“So, I kept thinking what I can do to help out and this seemed like a good idea at the time.
“I am a keen hockey fan and managed to beg and borrow a lot of the gear.
“So, the aim while I am in lockdown is to do a 9km walk every day, come rain or shine, and try to raise as much money and awareness for Patch as possible.
“I start at 11am and do the same route. The worst bit is coming out of Delph up Grains Road to the Kings Arms at the top of Grains Bar.
“It has been hot and sweaty so far with the weather. But I am not looking forward to if it rains because this sort of material will soak everything up.”
Dave’s exact route is 9.4km and it takes him about one hour 49 minutes.
“I have had a few funny looks,” he admits. “The other day the police drove past me, stopped and came back.
“They pulled over and asked what I was doing. So, I joked with them I was lost and looking for an ice rink someone told me was up here.”
Dave has followed the sport for about 15 years and is a steward with Altrincham-based Storm.
He added: “Initially, people used to tell me all about the fights which sounded intriguing. There is the odd scrap but it is good, family entertainment.”
Despite the moniker, Dave is not as big anymore. In fact, he is half the man he used to be.
He explained: “I used to be nearly 20 stone but lost 10 stones in nine-and-a-half months.
“I have managed to keep the weight off and I even won a bodybuilding competition at Pure Elite in Middleton. But people still know me as Big Dave.’
To sponsor Dave go online: https://patchamnesty.co.uk