A strong-willed Sheffield man has raised an incredible £1,500 for charity Support Dogs by giving up alcohol for a year.

Dog-lover Nick White, aged 43, from High Storrs, had hoped to raise £500 but by the end of his One Year No Beer challenge had smashed his target.

Not a heavy drinker, but someone who’d been known to have a few at Christmas and birthdays, Nick said that thinking of his charity of choice during the long, dry 12-month spell gave him plenty of motivation.

“I started the target small as I wasn’t a big drinker - gone are the days when I used to go out and drink heavily - so I was absolutely amazed to smash my target,” he says.

Nick, a bat ecologist, raises money for charity every couple of years and this time wanted to do something a bit different. He was inspired to raise money for Support Dogs after hearing one of their disability assistance dog clients speak about her experiences and the difference her dog made to her life.

Support Dogs provides and trains assistance dogs for children with autism, and adults with epilepsy and physical disability, enabling them to lead more independent lives.

“I have a black Labrador, Sam, and love him to bits,” says Nick. “In his own way he supported me when I was going through a mild depression, and just having him around and having to walk him, a dog really lifts your mood I think. Dogs are so loving, and don’t ask for anything back.

“I heard Support Dogs’ client Amanda Davidson speak, met and chatted to her and she was inspirational. Then I found out about Support Dogs being based in Sheffield but helping people all around the country.

"Finding out how these animals can be trained and use their skills was fantastic.”

Nick decided to start his booze-free year just before Christmas last year – “I wanted to get the hardest bit out of the way first”. His usual tipples of real ale, malt whisky and ‘the odd G&T on a summer’s evening’ went out of the window in favour first of Coke, then a succession of non-alcoholic beers.

There were a few testing moments throughout the year – Nick’s wife’s 40th birthday for example, and his annual visit to the Test Match at Headingley  - always a boozy affair - and having a nice cold beer  at the end of a hot sunny day.

But being the designated driver for 12 months had its advantages. Adds Nick: “It’s changed my attitude to drinking – I never want to get to the point when I wake up in the morning feeling rough. It’s good to wake up and feel fine. I go running and enjoyed not losing out because of drinking the night before.”

When the time came to start drinking again drew near, Nick says the craving got greater and greater but once the day came and he allowed himself a pint he found he wasn’t actually that bothered.

“To celebrate I arranged to go out with a few friends, but I just had a couple of pints and stuck to that,” he says. “And my wife Rachel and I went to the Dales for a few days and we could go for walks and end up in the pub; it was nice to go in and have a pint.  And I enjoyed Christmas this year! I’m just very grateful to everyone who donated and supported me during my 12 dry months,” he says.

Danny Anderson, fundraising manager for Support Dogs adds:  “We’re incredibly grateful to Nick for his fantastic fundraising efforts, and for the imaginative way that he chose to support us.

“We rely entirely on the generosity of people like him to help fund dog our training programmes, which can truly transform the lives of many people with serious medical condition and disabilities.”