Occupational Therapist John Darwen takes on TV’s Gladiators

Did you see our community occupational therapist John Darwen take on TV’s Gladiators on Saturday?

He was one of four contenders who faced the resident superhumans in BBC1’s reboot of the 1990s strength and skill gameshow.

John, 32, has been part of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Wyre Enhanced Primary Care Team since last August after graduating from the University of Central Lancashire in the summer.

His journey to becoming a Gladiator started as he turned 17 and was diagnosed with leukaemia. More than four years of chemotherapy followed which left him “skin and bones … I had nothing on me”.

John Darwen in front of Gladiators logo

Gladiator John Darwen

“I vividly remember walking through my front door and my mum asked me to go upstairs. I took one step on the stairs and then my whole body just collapsed because I had no strength. My mum helped me and, being a Christian, I went upstairs and got down on my hands and knees and prayed for strength, and asked God to give me what I need to do to get better.”

That low point gave John the determination and passion to build his life back “because I knew what I was like and I kind of never wanted to get back to that point again”.

Being someone who likes to push himself, John set about getting back to fitness and a year ago he showed what he was capable of – pulling a 1.5 tonne truck 32 miles with his brother-in-law James Baker and propelling both of them in to the Guinness Book of Records.

Friends and family joined John to watch the recording of his Gladiators episode in Sheffield last summer. They saw him battle through four brutal games, including a lightning-fast scaling of The Wall, before losing out to fellow competitor Jake in the final Eliminator round.

He said: “Being on Gladiators was like a childhood dream because I remember watching it when I was a little kid. So, it was an honour to be on the show and an experience that I’ll never forget.”

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