Turning up the heat: Wiltshire heating company owner takes on a challenge in aid of rheumatoid arthritis

By Nick Batten on 3 October, 2023

Debbie Williams, Co-owner of John William’s Heating Services in Chippenham, has taken on the challenge of raising money for the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) campaign by completing a 450k step challenge . She was diagnosed with the condition some years ago. 

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints, usually affecting the hands, feet, and wrists. Those who experience this condition have flare-ups, where symptoms can get significantly worse and treatments focus on minimising and preventing long-term damage to joints. Other symptoms include tiredness and weight loss.

Debbie said, “My journey with RA began in early 2016 when I started experiencing constant tiredness alongside painful hands and feet with stiffness and swelling. After starting to take alternative remedies, thinking it was old age and perimenopause, I then turned to a doctor and I found out it was RA.”

She manages her condition by keeping as active as possible walking, doing yoga and meditation. “On my bad days I do swimming, a form of exercise that is extremely helpful for my joints.” 

For Rheumatoid Arthritis Month this September, Debbie set herself the challenge of walking 15,000 steps a day, a total of 450,000 steps to raise funds and awareness of RA. 

“I’m excited to push myself in aid of the NRAS. It’s both manageable and a challenge because I have to condition myself, but my main aim is to raise as much as possible for this wonderful organisation. So, if you donate, no matter how small, THANK YOU!”

Debbie is not the only one drawing attention to the campaign. Kirsty Young from Radio 4 is the voice of NRAS’ appeal for support, after her own diagnosis in 2018. Debbie and Kirsty are two of the 18 million who have been affected by RA in the world.

Debbie added, “Supporting my challenge would be the greatest birthday gift to me this September – yes it’s also my birthday month. I’m still going strong, your encouragement has helped me keep up the positive mindset to finish!”

To support Debbie, you can still donate at: https://nras.org.uk/bbcappeal/

Pictured above: Debbie Williams, Co owner of John William’s Heating (credit: Barbara Leatham)