An amateur strongman is showing his giant heart by pumping iron for charity.
James Crowther, from Blyth, is competing in Newcastle’s Strongest Man competition on Sunday at FSI gym in North Shields dressed as the jolly green giant.
The 6ft 6ins, 22-stone, former non-professional Wigan Warriors rugby league player is raising money for Children North East.
James became aware of the charity when he was pastoral officer at Trinity Academy school in Newcastle.
He said: “I’ve spent most of my career working with disadvantaged youths who often feel like society has given up on them. But there is support out there for them and their families and what I admire about Children North East is that they are always willing to try new things and they don’t give up.”
James, who is married to Keely with a 17-month-old daughter, Rosie, has been in training for three months with online coach, Daniel Frazier, for the competition which will see competitors undergo a series of Herculean tasks.
They include flipping huge 280 kilo tyres six times in quick succession; an ‘overhead medley’; and the ultra-challenging ‘Atlas Stone Run’.
Speaking about his costume, James said: “Whilst it may seem like a laugh, there is meaning behind it. A few students I used to work with took to calling me the Jolly Green Giant and what started as them having a dig, quickly became a term of endearment.
“One of these students sadly lost his life recently and others have ended up in prison.”
“These situations could have been avoided if they had more help. I will be thinking of those students who missed getting the right help throughout the competition.
“Reminding myself that I am doing it for them has definitely helped me keep focused and determined.”
James was a complete amateur weightlifter when he joined the gym last year.
“I’ve only just got into the strong man training but it’s the main thing I do now,” he said.
“I have invested in a decent home gym with a lot of weights but you have to learn to lift awkward things effectively so I borrowed some big rock from Blyth beach that I train with in my garden and I also have a big sandbag weighing 100kg and a tractor tyre.
“I also train in the gym with Daniel and other local strongman enthusiasts for two hours every Saturday and I have to eat quite a lot but it’s all good stuff – no cake!”
In advance of the competition he’s on a strict 5,000-calories a day, high-protein and high-legume diet that includes, spinach, green beans, broccoli – and of course, sweetcorn.
You can sponsor James by visiting www.children-ne.org.uk/fundraisers/strong4children