THE first male to sign up to a nationwide charity challenge which has been female-only for the past three years is from Reading.

Zak Bolton, 14, a year nine student at Little Heath School in Tilehurst, is he first male to sign up to Sue Ryder's Starlight Hike after being inspired to get involved while cheering on his mum Lynn last year.

Lynn said: "Zak was keen to participate at Starlight Hike this year. My sister, Sheila, died at Nettlebed Hospice in November 2009, and it was only when she was moved from the Royal Berkshire Hospital to the hospice that Zak plucked up the courage to visit her.

"It was really good that Zak managed to spend some time with his auntie in her last two days before she died. It was also nice that she realised he was there to support her as well.

"Up until then participating in sponsored events hadn't really had as much purpose to Zak, but now events like Starlight Hike have much more significance."

The Starlight Hike takes place on September 29, replacing the charity's Midnight Walk event, and men are able to enter for the first time and join in the 10K walk around Reading's Green Park.

Event fundraiser Emma Harpaul added: "The move to include men in the walk is more in line with the care that we provide to both males and females and it's great the event has now evolved so the whole family can take part.

"We hope that lots of men will really see the benefit of being allowed to participate this year and sign up for an evening of fun, fitness and fundraising."

Entry is �18. Visit: