Working as a critical care nurse at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital gave Colin Nicholson valuable experience. It also left him with the conviction that his intervention was sometimes too late to save people from death or disability, writes Maggie Hartford.

He said: “I have seen at first hand the consequences of a poor lifestyle and lack of general knowledge about health.”

So, after more than 20 years in the National Health Service, he set up his own business, Mobile Health MoT, to encourage people to live healthier lives.

He said: “I love being a nurse. I worked in intensive therapy units for eight years and I saw a lot of people who were unwell. There is no doubt that sometimes people become ill because of their lifestyle. You will always get someone who was not overweight and does not smoke and still has a heart attack, but that is the exception.”

He believes passionately that if people learn more about their own health, they will be more motivated to make changes.

His MoT starts with a simple questionnaire and measurements of blood pressure, height and weight, and includes a quick test for cholesterol and glucose levels. He said: "I do not rely on one measure, but I try to build up a picture of the whole person. Then we come up with a plan of what they are going to do. It might be a visit to their GP, changes to their diet and more exercise. When they see the results, they are more likely to take action.”

He knew from the age of 15 that he wanted to become a nurse and his ambition was not shifted by the reaction of his schoolmates.

“I used to go to lectures about nursing while my friends were going into motor mechanics or the police,” Colin said.

Having trained in Hertfordshire, he moved to the John Radcliffe Hospital, where he was commissioned by the health trust to help at a Saturday club in Blackbird Leys called Dads and Lads.

He continued to work at ocassional events such as Men’s Health Week and became involved with a national CardioVascular Disease project. Then in 2009 he took the plunge and set up his business, believing the situation will be even worse for the next generation.

“Once you only saw mature-onset diabetes in people over 60. Now it is children as young as six. Mum is taking the children to school in the car, where once they would have walked — and she would have walked as well. It is a whole way of life that has changed.”

He added: “I do not bully people into doing things. I am just giving them information and they have to take the decision themselves."

As well as working for local councils and national health campaigns, he is hoping to build up a list of employers willing to host health and wellbeing days, which he already runs at large companies, such as Oxford-based Amey.

“It fits well into the workplace because it improves staff relationships and a healthier workforce has to be better for businesses,”

he said.

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