A 63-YEAR-OLD Bradford man - who served for over 20 years in the same army regiment that Captain Tom Moore also served in - has raised more than £1,100 for the NHS after running over 140 kilometres during Ramadan.

Mohammad Chin-Chan - a Guyanese-born ex-sergeant major who made Bradford his home over 20 years ago - made a vow to run 5 kilometres every day in Ramadan, around Manningham’s Lister Park, to raise money for the NHS.

Mohammad, who was born Michael and converted to Islam in 2003, grew up in Guyana - a culturally Caribbean, geographically South American country which was under British rule for over 150 years - and enlisted in the British Army in 1975.

He served in the Duke of Wellington Regiment, the same regiment the now famous fundraiser, Captain Tom Moore, also served in, although not at the same time.

After 22 years in the army, Mohammad settled in Bradford in 1998, and now lives in the Girlington area. He set out to use his physical abilities to support the NHS, and has now raised £1,125.

“A day before Ramadan, I was watching Captain Tom Moore on the news, and he inspired me to do my own fundraising”, said Mohammad.

“I started running on day one of Ramadan, setting myself a target of running 5k every day, against the clock, whilst also fasting.

"I wanted to raise £1,000 on my JustGiving page, for the NHS, but this target has now been exceeded.

“As an ex-sergeant major in the army, I wanted to put my physical energy to the test to benefit the community.

"A lot of people have died from this virus, so I wanted to put my strengths to use, to help save lives. We have key workers putting their lives on the line, so we have to put something back in order to help them and the community."

Bradford’s diversity and one “local lad” from the city were what originally brought Mohammad to the area 22 years ago.

“Shortly after I left the army, I settled in Bradford - I didn’t really have any belonging or allegiance to any city in the UK, having grown up abroad.

"But Bradford struck me as being very multi-cultural, which attracted me, and I also had a friend here who was a local lad.”

Since moving to the city, Mohammad has become the owner of ACS Security, on Thornton Road, and is also a trustee at community organisation IslamBradford, based on City Road.

He learned about the Islamic faith from members of the city’s Muslim community, and converted to Islam 17 years ago.

“There was a Muslim guy who worked for me at my shop, and he was always rushing around during Ramadan. I found it really exciting and interesting, and it made me want to learn more.

“I’ve always been a religious person, I was a Christian before I converted to Islam. I started reading about Islam and engaging with the Muslim community here in Bradford, and that helped me to decide that Islam was the way forward for me.

“I helped to form IslamBradford, along with three others, in 2004. We wanted to form a non-cultural association for Muslims in the city, somewhere that was more accessible for Muslims of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

"The only two languages spoken here are English and Arabic. The prayers are obviously in Arabic, but every speech is in English. It's helped IslamBradford to become a very racially and culturally diverse place - we have people of all nationalities who attend, and it has really grown over the years.”

Mohammad says this Ramadan was particularly hard due to lockdown, with things like congregational meals and prayers put on hold in the wake of COVID-19.

However, he says that he has also used this time as an opportunity to get closer to his family.

“Ramadan was difficult, but lockdown has made the family closer. It’s made us more close-knit and we understand each other more, together as a family unit.

"In a weird way, believe it or not, this has been the best Ramadan, because of that.

"I have four kids, and my 11-year-old son has been leading the prayers at home. We've been getting closer to one another."

Mohammad also stressed how important it is that the country follows the Government guidelines, in order for us to move forward.

"We have to stay at home and follow the guidelines. It's really important that we only go out when it is essential."

Looking to the future, he takes a pensive approach.

“The only way forward will be a vaccine - it is up to man to find the cure and it will be found, Insha’Allah (‘God-willing’). The cure is out there, man just hasn't found it yet. Until then, we have to adapt to living a life with face masks.”

Eid is one of many celebrations to have been affected by coronavirus, as Mohammad mentions.

“We normally have an outdoor gathering to celebrate Eid in Infirmary Fields, opposite the Living Islam shop, but this year is different.

“It’s very unusual circumstances, but it can’t be helped - we have to have Eid at home, we have to all stay at home.”