Tube fan visits all 272 Underground stations before he loses ability to walk

Tube fan visits all 272 Underground stations before he loses ability to walk thumbnail

A Tube fanatic has completed a challenge to visit every single London Underground station to help raise awareness for his medical condition. 

Ben Spencer, 49, has a condition called Ataxia, a disorder which affects co-ordination, balance and speech.

He was diagnosed last summer and told he would no longer be able to walk in around a year’s time. 

Ben, who lives in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, wanted to make the most of it while he was still able to do so, and also raise awareness.

So he decided to take on a fun challenge – visit all 272 Tube stations as soon as possible.

The former bouncer successfully completely his mission on February 10, finishing at Tottenham Court Road. 

It took Ben, who uses two sticks to aid him while walking, five months to complete the epic journey. He took pictures at every single station.

He told the BBC the challenge has turned him into ‘a total Tube nut’.

What is Ataxia?

According to the NHS, Ataxia is a term for a group of disorders that affect co-ordination, balance and speech.

Any part of the body can be affected, but people with ataxia often have difficulties with:

  • Balance
  • Walking
  • Speaking
  • Swallowing
  • Tasks that require a high degree of control, such as writing and eating
  • Vision

The exact symptoms and their severity vary depending on the type of ataxia a person has.

Ben said: ‘I did like using the Tube beforehand – it’s an iconic part of London.

‘I absolutely adore it, it’s absolutely fascinating learning about the history and architecture as I go. I also have made so many friends doing it and found a real community.’

Ben was living with difficulties with his speech and mobility issues for more than 10 years before he was finally diagnosed.

He added: ‘The early symptoms started many years ago when I started to have difficulties walking. But I struggled to get a diagnosis; it was mistaken from everything to a tremor to arthritis.

‘While I was glad to finally get a diagnosis, the type I have is quite an insidious kind – progressive cerebellar ataxia – and I was told this may be my last year walking.’

Ben admitted he’d ‘never even heard’ of Ataxia before and the diagnosis made him feel ‘really alone’.

His challenge has received support from charities Ataxia UK and Ataxia and Me. His main goal was to raise awareness about the rare and frequently misdiagnosed disease, which affects one in 50,000 people.

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