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Ed Brindley, a Sports and Exercise Sciences Master’s graduate from the University of Chester, will swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles then run a 26.2 mile marathon, all in just one day, in a challenging triathlon.

He’s aiming to raise at least £1,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, as his beloved grandfather Charles suffered from dementia in his final years.

The 29-year-old, who also studied his undergraduate degree at the University, is part of the Alzheimer’s Research UK fund-raising team taking part in the Outlaw Triathlon at the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepoint, Nottingham, on July 25.

The event starts at sunrise with a swim, followed by the bike ride across Nottinghamshire and then the race around the city centre.

Ed grew up unaware that during the Second World War Charles was a Royal Signalman linked to Bletchley Park, home to the Colossus and Enigma machines. Charles was picked to join the elite Special Communications Unit Number 1 at Whaddon Hall, Bletchley - HQ for MI6’s section VIII operations during the War and the forerunner of today’s secret service. He was responsible for supplying crucial details on German strategy to Allied commanders and agents in the field. Code-named Ultra, the information was credited as helping to end the conflict early.

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Charles Brindley as an 18-year-old after signing up to the Royal Signals Corps (copyright Brindley family.)

Charles (pictured above as an 18-year-old after signing up to the Royal Signals Corps - © Brindley family) later served in Palestine, probably transmitting secret encoded signals using Morse code. After being demobbed he worked in Preston for the English Electricity Company, which made electrical equipment, before returning to his home town of Blackpool, where he became Head of Security at Blackpool Winter Gardens, Opera House and Tower in the 1970s and 80s. He was responsible for shielding stars of the day from over-zealous fans, plus protecting politicians from potential IRA attacks.

Ed, who can trace his family roots back to the 13th Century at Cheshire’s Beeston Castle,  has taken part in other triathlons and marathons in the UK and in New Zealand, where he worked as a teaching assistant. He now teaches PE at Formby High School in Merseyside.

Ed said: “We didn’t know anything about my grandad’s work at Bletchley Park until his mum’s diary was ©. It was amazing to learn what Grandad did in the war – he never spoke about it to my dad Noel, his other son Russell nor their sister Elaine.

"I assume he had been ordered to keep it a secret. Grandad’s brother Tommy would have known about the Bletchley link it but the paperwork was hidden away and forgotten.

“I remember Grandad as somebody who was always playful and a lot of fun, enjoying games with us in his garden, where he had lots of odd things he’d found on the beach.  The first time I realised how bad dementia could be was when I saw Grandad flick from anger to confusion to sadness, unable to recognise us when me and Dad visited him in hospital for the last time.

“He was younger than I am now when he was sending those secret messages, doing a job that involved a high level of accuracy and skill. It is tragic that dementia took away those abilities and turned him into a different person.

“He died in July 2007, aged 80. He had developed pneumonia and was in hospital but then Dorothy, my step-grandmother, died at home. He died himself just days later and his brother Tommy sorted out all his papers. It was only after Tommy’s death that the family discovered this secret history.

“Dad did some research and found out Grandad passed encoded messages to high-ranking officers and spies in the field in Europe to inform them of German operations, which had been discovered by the teams cracking the German transmissions. He's also on the Bletchley role of honour, which you can see when you go into the museum there and online.”

Fitness fan Ed is eating up to 7,000 calories a day during his training and reckons he will burn more than 15,000 calories during the triple event.

He said: “I use protein shakes and eat plenty of pulses and vegetables as I don’t eat meat. Plus a lot of doughnuts and Jaffa Cakes.

“I’m training as much as I can, with up to 10 sessions a week. I do a swim, run or gym workout every day, then try to fit in as many long bike rides as possibly, especially at the weekend. My longest bike ride before this was the 100-mile Liverpool-Chester race, and I did the Chester Marathon in just over four hours. But doing it all in just one day, back-to-back, will be exhausting. It’s a good job it’s during the school holidays!”

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Charles Brindley, who became Head of Security at Blackpool Winter Gardens and Tower, after he left the Royal Signals Corps (copyright Brindley family.)
Charles Brindley, who became Head of Security at Blackpool Winter Gardens and Tower, after he left the Royal Signals Corps (copyright Brindley family.)

A veteran of marathons and triathlons, Ed wanted to set himself a new challenge and decided to enter the Outlaw triathlon and was delighted when Alzheimer’s Research UK, an official partner for the event, accepted him onto its fund-raising team.

Ed said: “It seemed a perfect way to honour his memory with this ultra triathlon and to help research into this awful condition. Dementia affects so many families: it’s not just older people, as I’ve become aware that people of any age can develop dementia and it is hard for their relatives.

“Dementia took away the opportunity to really say goodbye to my grandad. It affects families everyday. Alzheimer's Research UK is trying to find a cure to diseases that cause dementia so this doesn't keep happening.”

Ed’s University lecturer Professor Craig Twist added: “Ed was an enthusiastic and bright student, who was always interested in the physiology and nutrition of endurance performance. I also remembering him volunteering to be tested in the laboratory a few times and producing some impressive performances in practical sessions and other students’ research projects. I’m sure all of the knowledge and experience he gained as a student here will go a long way in helping him negotiate this challenge successfully.”

Ed is already more than halfway to his £1,000 target, thanks to donations from friends and family and his JustGiving page for the Outlaw Triathlon Challenge is at

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