Physiotherapist and Team GB athlete from Sheffield completes London Marathon for military charity in memory of great-grandfather


Steve Canning 1A physiotherapist and Team GB athlete from Sheffield has completed the London Marathon in an incredible two hours 49 minutes and 32 seconds, despite being ill. He ran on behalf of Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.

Steve, 37, says: “It was a great day, as it always is at the London Marathon. It wasn’t quite the time I was aiming for, but unfortunately I was battling against a cold in the days before, so I’m still very happy with it!”

He continues: “So far I’ve managed to raise £660, with at least another £50 to collect from work. I originally had a target of £500, so I’m really pleased to have already gone beyond that.”

Steve Canning, originally from Haywards Heath, Sussex, completed the world famous event for the third time, and ran in honour of his great-grandfather, Leonard Howell, who received support from the charity over 100 years ago and created a legacy which continues to inspire his family to this day. He says: “Leonard fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 until a shrapnel wound left him completely blind. Upon returning to the UK, he was contacted by Blind Veterans UK, which was still very much in its infancy in those days. They initially helped him train as a masseuse, wherein he joined the Incorporated Society of Trained Masseuses. It was after that that he trained to become a physiotherapist.”

The profession of physiotherapy has now stuck with the family, with Steve himself a fourth-generation practitioner. He explains: “My Grandfather, Bryan trained to become one himself, as did Bryan’s children. I grew up above the family practice and from as young as I can remember, I always wanted to follow in the family footsteps! I studied in Sheffield and haven’t looked back since. The family practice is still going in Haywards Heath, though, both my uncle and aunt work there still.”

Leonard Howell with Blind Veterans UK founder, Sir Arthur Pearson

He continues: “I was too young to remember meeting Leonard myself but I heard so many family stories, it’s clear just how much of an inspiration he was for so many. One of our family members has written a book about him, and he himself was quite into his poetry; he even wrote one about Louis Braille! There’s an incredible black and white photo of him learning about the human body with a number of other blind veterans, including Sir Arthur Pearson, who founded the charity. I have it on my wall in my practice and get asked about it all the time – I absolutely love it. ”

Steve’s familiarity with the charity from such a young age, allied with the 100 anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, which took place last year, meant he was motivated to help the charity continue its support of blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.

Outside of his profession, Steve is an accomplished sportsmen, having completed the London Marathon on three separate occasions, as well as the York, Manchester and Edinburgh courses. In addition, he has represented Great Britain in both the World and European Triathlon Championships.

To support Steve, please visit:

Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in WWI. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning WWII to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan. We have set an ambitious target to double the number of veterans receiving our life changing support to over 8,000 by 2022.

For more than a century, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision-impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight. Visit to learn more about the charity and how you can support its vital work today.

For all media enquiries please contact: Felix Arbenz-Caines, PR Assistant, Blind Veterans UK, 12 – 14 Harcourt Street, London, W1H 4HD, E:, T: 020 7616 7941

Notes to Editor

Blind Veterans UK

Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan’s) is a national charity that believes that no-one who has served our country should have to battle blindness alone. It provides blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women with lifelong support including welfare support, rehabilitation, training, residential and respite care.

The charity needs £100 million over 5 years to provide lifelong support to blind ex-Service men and women. Find out more at:, and follow us on Facebook at: and on Twitter at:

Our Executive Members

By @Cobseo 54 years ago

Afghanistan support

In light of recent events in Afghanistan, please find information and support resources here