Cricketer's health scare
A FORMER professional cricketer has today vowed to shed the pounds after suffering three health scares in just three months.Don Topley, ex Essex seamer and Zimbabwe coach, suffered a testicular cancer scare, a liver problem and a heart problem within weeks of each other.
A FORMER professional cricketer has today vowed to shed the pounds after suffering three health scares in just three months.
Don Topley, ex Essex seamer and Zimbabwe coach, suffered a testicular cancer scare, a liver problem and a heart problem within weeks of each other.
Weighing in at 19st 4lb, Mr Topley's doctor declared him obese and said he was at risk of cirrhosis of the liver and a heart attack.
Under pressure from both his partner and his colleagues at the Royal Hospital School (RHS), Holbrook, Mr Topley decided to fight the flab.
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Mr Topley, 40, said: "I have had three issues with my health and I have really got to do something and change my habits.
"Being a professional sportsman you think you are infallible, you think you are as strong as an ox and nothing can stop you but I'm not as young as I was.
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"I am one of those larger than life characters that likes to eat and socialise but I have got to look after my body especially for those nearest and dearest to me."
Staff and students at RHS have now teamed up with Mr Topley's partner to motivate him to lose the pounds.
With regular weigh-ins in front of an 800 strong school, Mr Topley has been challenged to slim to 16st by June.
Along the way he will be sponsored by colleagues, friends, professional cricketers, footballers and rugby players. All of the money raised will help establish a school in an area affected by the South Asian tsunami.
It is hoped the fundraising aspect combined with the need to improve his own physical health will provide Mr Topley with the motivation to succeed.
He said: "I had a liver problem in June which still hasn't quite gone away, followed by a lump where it shouldn't have one - it was a testicular cancer scare. I had to have an operation to remove it.
"I'm pleased to say I was given the all clear but it wasn't looking good at one point. Only when you remove it to you know.
"After that I had a little bit of a heart problem."
Mr Topley's heart condition was quite common and was caused by an irregularity in his heart beat where the bottom half of the heart doesn't know what the top is doing and vice versa.
His liver condition was more serious however and is believed to have been caused by a build up of fat cells in the organ.
Topley began teaching part time at RHS in 1993 and took on a full time post when he quit professional cricket the following year.
He hit the headlines in the early 90s when he alleged match fixing had occurred in two matches between Essex and Lancashire - no action was taken against the clubs.
Twelfth man for England on several occasions and now a veteran rugby and football player, he has been a useful addition to the PE staff at RHS.
In his role as marketing manager he brought Ipswich Town Football Club to the school for pre season training and has remained in close contact with the club.
The Blues nutritionist has even agreed to support Topley in his bid to slim.
He added: "When sport was my job I was paid and was a professional. It was easy to stay in shape because I had a goal. This isn't just a worthwhile cause it will motivate me.
"I'm basically looking to reduce my intake but I am proud to say alcohol has never been a problem.
"I drink too much squash and eat too much bread, potatoes and pasta.
"I'm going to eat less and do more."
Topley admits he is apprehensive about the exercise he will have to undertake to get in shape.
His cricketing days left him plagued by ankle and knee injuries and he cannot run as well as other people his age.
He added: "I am looking to get a lot fitter and slimmer and no one can do that without a bit of pain and sweat and effort. I have got a lot of good people around me to help."
One of those people is RHS' headteacher Howard Blackett who masterminded the sponsored slim idea.
He said: "The school has a community action programme and each year we support a charity chosen by the children. This year the children chose Mercy Ships but in addition we are helping to establish a school in Sri Lanka affected by the tsunami.
"This fundraiser will be the primary flag bearer of that. I have suggested raising £10,000 throughout the year with half of that going to the school and the other half to Mercy Ships.
"We haven't chosen the school yet but one of our parents knows the president of Sri Lanka and has links to high places."
n To sponsor Mr Topley contact the school on 01473 326200.