Ryan Pankhurst, 32, attends charity events, school discos and parties dressed as the Marvel superhero in what has become ‘a normal thing’

With great power comes great responsibility, and this Farnborough resident has taken on an especially hefty task – making local people happy. The Spider-Man of Farnborough has become something of a celebrity in the town over the last year, regularly attending charity events, school discos and parties. He can often be spotted swinging through the town or balancing on a wall, and with a following of almost 2,000 people on Facebook he is certainly in high demand.

But who exactly is this friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man?  And why does he spend his days spinning a web of any size and catching thieves just like flies?

Ryan Pankhurst, 32, gave up his job last year and became a house husband when his wife started working full-time to earn more money. Not having much to do during the day, he needed a new hobby, and started to get into cosplay – a performance art that combines costume and play, where participants wear costumes to represent a specific character. Mr Pankhurst started attending conventions dressed as Spider-Man and soon a few of his friends who worked with various charities invited him along to help with events.

But why Spider-Man? “For me, I grew up reading comics and watching Spider-Man on television when I was a kid,” he explained. “I like to bring his character to life for children in the way he moves.”

Mr Pankhurst had already achieved a drastic weight loss, losing more than two stone, giving him the confidence to get into the costume. “That’s when I thought about getting into cosplaying more seriously,” he said. “In terms of acting like Spider-Man, I had watched a lot of videos already so I was familiar with how he moves and sits and poses.

“As a kid I used to sit on the floor in strange positions while I was watching television so I was used to it. “The first time I went to a convention I was so nervous and shy in my costume. I had never done it before, but I got into it a bit more and made the most of being the character.” What started as a hobby has escalated and Spider-Man is now busier than ever bringing a smile to the faces of children of Farnborough and neighbouring towns.

‘A normal thing’

A fundraising day at Camberley’s New Image salon, Cherrywood Primary School’s Easter fair and a Superhero event in Camberley’s Mall shopping centre are just some of the recent events in his diary. He owns a total of five Spider-Man costumes, which he switches around depending on the event. With two sons of his own, aged three and six, it is not unusual for Mr Pankhurst to walk around the house in his Spider-Man costume. He said: “It’s a big part of our lives. Having my own children gives me more of a reason to dress up – it’s a lot of fun. “My children have their action figures and they like to wear costumes too. “They don’t bat an eyelid if I’m walking around dressed as Spider-Man. It’s a normal thing. “I think my wife was a bit surprised by it all at first, but she thought it was fair enough. “It used to be a bit embarrassing for her if she was driving the car and I was sat in the passenger seat in my costume but she’s used to it now.”

Source: Get Hampshire http://www.gethampshire.co.uk/