Manchester Evening News

Charity run tribute for ‘gentle giant’

- By WILLIAM MORGAN newsdesk@men-news.co.uk @MENnewsdes­k

A TALENTED sports photograph­er who died last month has been honoured and remembered by friends and family, who are raising money in his name by running the streets of Greater Manchester, sometimes wearing only Speedos.

Matthew Lofthouse, 29, passed away following a seizure in his sleep at the start of 2024 after a rapid rise to the top of his profession, snapping pictures for national newspapers, football teams, and even appearing on the BBC Breakfast red sofa to inspire others with autism into photograph­y.

Described as a “gentle giant” by friends and family, after his shock death, many have rallied together to raise money for causes close to his heart.

Best friend Conner McParland has taken up the challenge of honouring his friend in the way only a best friend could, by doing something incredibly silly. So, quashing any embarrassm­ent, he and a group of others have started donning just a pair of tight Speedos and running around the roads of Ashtonunde­r-Lyne and Mossley to raise money for causes close to their friend’s heart.

Alongside Conner has been a dedicated group of friends who have been taking part in daily five-mile runs, with and without clothes, to increase the total distance ran in Matthew’s name. By the end of January, his friends marked their 400th mile with a mass Speedo run, over the very countrysid­e that first inspired Matthew to pick up a camera.

Matthew was an obsessive from an early age. Tearing through history books as a young boy, he was academical­ly engaged but struggled to succeed at school because of his diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome and, when he said he wanted to go to university, not many people believed he could do it.

But, Matthew was a dedicated hard worker and did not let his diagnosis get in the way of doing what he loved, graduating with a First Class Honour’s degree in Photojourn­alism in 2020. After this qualificat­ion, his talent and drive led him to a successful career.

He had his pictures featured in the Daily Telegraph, The Times, Daily Mail, The Sun, The Daily Star, L’Equipe, BBC News, and was a finalist for a photograph­er of the year in his first year of profession­al work. His brother Thomas Lofthouse said: “Matthew would apply his incredible gift to every endeavour he set out to achieve.

“The resilience and hard work he showed to overcome so many barriers and difficulti­es to achieve such remarkable success both academical­ly and as a gifted photograph­er was truly inspiring, all whilst being the kindest, most genuine, selfless person who would make a special effort for everyone he knew or met.

“He loved his friends and family deeply, as we loved him. I will miss him so much and will ensure that his memory lives on through his niece and nephews who absolutely adored their giant uncle Matty.”

Best friend turned almost-nude runner, Conner McParland said: “The Speedo run was put in place to honour Matthew and do something out of the ordinary, as Matthew was not an ordinary man. He was a talented and gifted photograph­er and a wonderful human being, alongside all the charity work he did, he was working for the NHS taking photos for medical purposes.

“He always helped others in any way he could, so we are doing the same, raising money for Autism Awareness and The Albion Church In Ashton.”

In addition to the almost-nude running, a charity boxing match has also been set up for March to raise money for Autism Awareness.

 ?? ?? Friends and family of Matthew Lofthouse, (right, centre) have been honouring his memory
Friends and family of Matthew Lofthouse, (right, centre) have been honouring his memory

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