All at sea to raise money is the right thong to do for Mark

Dorset Echo: All at sea to raise money is the right thong to do for Mark All at sea to raise money is the right thong to do for Mark

A FISHERMAN from Weymouth will be braving the cold to raise money for people affected by autism.

Mark Hilliard will be setting out from Weymouth Harbour to spend the day fishing off Portland in nothing but a red lobster thong.

Mark, 45, hopes the stunt next week will encourage people to donate to charity Autism Wessex.

He said: “My son, who is now 23, has autism and ADHD, and so I understand how this charity really helps parents who have children with special needs.

“I can’t say I’m particularly fit, so doing something like running or cycling was out, but it still needed to be a challenge, which is why I chose to do it in winter.

“Hopefully it will also bring a smile to people’s faces.”

Mark will be setting out on December 23 wearing a survival suit, which he will then take off when the boat is out at sea.

Friend and chartered fisherman Josh Simmonds will be taking Mark out on his boat, Fish on 2.

Mark added: “Josh told me I was mad when I first went to him with the idea, but he’s also my biggest donor to date, and he’s been so supportive and helpful.

“The idea came about when I was at a barbecue last New Year’s Eve. I wore a reindeer thong, just for a laugh, and someone said I should do it for charity.

“I like to think of myself as a fairly robust person, so I’ll be stripping down for as long as possible.”

Autism Wessex wants to hear from anyone wanting to raise money for the charity in weird and wonderful ways and will offer any support needed.

Paul Reade, community and events fundraiser, said; “The charity relies heavily on donations by the public to raise vital funds each year and we are always looking for new ways to generate income. “We host regular events throughout the year but individual support, such as Mark’s, makes a huge difference to us, and of course directly supports people in the community affected by autism.

“If you would like to get involved in any fundraising activity, either by volunteering at an event, taking part in events or indeed hosting your own event, we would be delighted to hear from you.”

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