Blind Dave Heeley, from West Bromwich, said he was “over the moon” to receive an OBE for his charitable fundraising.
The 62-year-old charity champion and father-of-three is the first blind person to complete the seven-marathon challenge in 2008 – and has raised an incredible £3 million for different charities by taking part in various challenges across an entire decade.
Dave Heeley – fondly known as Blind Dave – also released a movie about his life last year, which was screened at West Bromwich Odeon. The film told of his incredible feat of completing seven marathons in seven days across seven continents, back in 2008.
The work to get him an OBE has been rumbling on behind the scenes since 2016, and Blind Dave said he was “so emotional” when he found out.
He said: “I really am lost for words. I feel so privileged.
“To get a thank you from Queen and country, that’s just the bees knees, you can’t get any higher. I’ve been quite emotional about it all, it’s really brilliant.”
He added: “When I first got the email I thought someone was taking the mick. I immediately called my wife, Deb, over, to look. Turned out she’d been hiding it from me since 2016! There’s been a lot of people behind the scenes getting this, and I just want to thank them all.
“I was far from expecting it. I just carry on and crack on. I’ve had so much support over the years, there’s been so many people and I just want to grab them all and give them a big hug and say thank you. This isn’t Blind Dave OBE but Team Blind Dave OBE.”
His feats have included swimming in icy waters from the former rock-island prison of Alcatraz, in America, and a 160 mile run across the Sahara desert in Africa in sweltering conditions. He has also walked across the Great Wall of China.
And he hasn’t let lockdown stop him from running regularly around the Black Country. His regular guide Tony Ellis wasn’t able to join him on his jogs outdoors when lockdown restrictions came into place this year, so two of Dave’s daughters stepped up.