Leon - An inspiration to all.Mon 15th May 2023
Every year between April and September excavations take place at Fort Vindolanda in Northumberland. One of Beverley's residents took time out to fulfil an ambition of his and take the opportunity to excavate at the site.
Vindolanda was a Roman auxiliary fort "Castrum'', in the north of England just South of Hadrian's Wall. It is understood that it was under Roman occupation from approximately 85 AD to 370 AD.
Leon, who has an interest in Roman history, visited the Vindolanda Fort, which is a world heritage site, in 2018.
Leon became aware that excavations take place between April and September, so he decided one day he would excavate on the site. He knew that places are limited at Vindolanda and highly sought after to excavate under expert supervision of the resident archaeologist.
Towards the end of 2022 Leon received the news that he had secured his place but the news was just the start of his journey.
By December 2022 Leon's application to dig at Vindolanda had been accepted, he read through all the documentation. His heart sank with the sentence. "You need to demonstrate that you are physically able to carry out the required work"!!!!
Leon, at 80+ years old, had not carried out any form of exercise for 40 years. Undeterred, but with the backing of his family, Leon's journey began.
Leon sought the help of Beverley's Oliver Johnston who has a good reputation in personal fitness, helping people of all ages to fulfill their ambition and targets. Oliver knew what he was taking on...
Oliver said, "You are never too old to start to do exercise, to adopt a healthier lifestyle, you just need to have a positive attitude and be consistent".
Oli went on to say, "Leon's mindset was incredible. He was open minded and positive, and he told me what he needed to do to achieve a level of fitness to do two weeks of work of digging at Vindolanda. We had 4 months to get him prepared, Leon attended every session and took it all in his stride".
"He did what he was able to do with excitement and determination, and as an 80+ year old gentleman, to see him push himself safely and with a smile was fantastic, an inspiration to all of us, not just the older generation."
Leon said, "Through a regime of walking, pilates, bending and stretching 4 to 5 hours a week, and a programme which was achievable and fun, I knew I could achieve my ambition".
On Sunday 16th April at 10am, Leon headed north - "Vindolanda Fort here I come."
Leon worked on an area of the site excavating in the south western quadrant - a stone fort. During a dig in 2022, a round house constructed of stone was exposed. This was unusual as the Romans never built round houses, it was usually the British or Celts that built round houses but usually of timber construction. This area of the site held specific interest and captured Leon's imagination, resulting in many hours of research prior to going up to Vindolanda.
Leon is a credit and inspiration, and sends a message to everyone, "if you put your mind, heart and soul into it, you can fulfil your dreams."