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Published: Saturday March 1, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Saturday March 1, 2014 MYT 11:42:22 AM

Briton spares time for charity in Malaysia

Bell says the weather and food are much better in Malaysia compared to the UK.

Bell says the weather and food are much better in Malaysia compared to the UK.

WHEN Briton John Bell runs, he runs for charity.

Having been really unfit seven years ago, the 51-year-old decided to do something about it and simultaneously contribute to cancer research.

“You don’t realise how unfit you are until something bad happens. I dislocated my ankle and during my physiotherapy session, it was recommended I do more exercise to keep fit.

“So, running is like a hobby now,” said Bell, who was born in Singapore.

When he started to run in races, Bell convinced his friends to sponsor his endeavours to raise funds for charity.

“I asked them if I can finish a 5km, 10km or 21km run, how much would they give me. It was kind of a motivational factor for me.”

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Perdana Botanical Gardens is a favourite spot for Bell when he goes for a run.

In the span of five years, Bell said he managed to raise close to RM50,000.

In terms of running and building stamina, he said everyone needs to start slow.

“I started with 5km and struggled, but I progressed and can now do it in 23 minutes. It took me two years to run a 10km event comfortably,” he said.

Bell has been running for six years and will run his first full marathon (42km) in June.

“I’m certainly going to persuade my friends to help me raise more money.”

Bell works as a channel manager for a re-insurance company in Kuala Lumpur, and helps to develop products and distribution strategies.

Although he was born in Singapore and holds a British passport, Bell spent his formative years in Klang until he was 12 years old and later moved to Johor Baru. He then spent 32 years in the United Kingdom.

His late father, Ernest Bell, was from Manchester while his Eurasian mother is from Klang.

“I always considered Malaysia my home, so I enjoy the best of both countries (Malaysia and UK),” said Bell, who returned to Malaysia last January.

“The weather and food are so much better in Malaysia, too,” he added.

Speaking of food, Bell’s favourites consist of the usual suspects such as laksa, roti canai, rendang and chicken rice.

He spends his free time with his sister and her three children.

“I have cousins in Kualal Lumpur and Seremban too, so it’s nice to catch up with family.”

Asked about three places he would recommend to tourists during Visit Malaysia Year 2014, he cited Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Malacca.

“Malacca is a quaint city. Penang has good food and a mix of old and new cultures.”

His top three things to do in the Malaysian capital city are visiting Petaling Street, taking in the heritage sites and, of course, feasting on local food.

Bell likes to run at the Lake Gardens and his favourite beach vacation spots include Langkawi and Redang islands.

Despite having spent years in Malaysia, petai and durian are no-nos for him.

“Half my family eats durian and half do not. I remember when I was growing up how my father used to make those who love durian eat it outside the house,” he laughed.

His other favourite pastimes are playing football and he used to play for the Johor state team.

“My favourite team is Manchester City, but all my family members are Manchester United fans.

Tags / Keywords: Central Region, John Bell, expat

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