Team of dads, family and friends embarks on four day challenge for Tŷ Hafan

By Nub News Reporter

26th Jun 2024 | Local News

This morning (Wednesday, 26 June) nine intrepid dads, uncles and friends supported by Tŷ Hafan Children's Hospice set off to travel to Conwy in North Wales as they prepare to undertake their latest extreme fundraising challenge. 

Tŷ Hafan fathers Paul Fears, Dan Forbes, Ryan Tomlinson, Chris Thomas, James Meacham, Lee Morgan and Anthony Boggis have been joined by Laurence Morgan, brother of Lee, and Jason Foster, Tŷ Hafan's Director of Finance for the four-day epic #BikeBoatBoot challenge. 

So far, the team has raised more than £35,000 and they are hoping to smash their target by the time this weekend is out Bike Boat Boot Challenge for Tŷ Hafan - JustGiving

Lee, from Kenfig Hill, says: "My son Ezra was only seven weeks old when he passed away from a genetic condition called SMA Type 1 which we weren't aware of until he fell unwell in March 2015. 

"At the time Bailey, Ezra's sister, was two years old. As you can imagine this was a very distressing time for us as a family. Tŷ Hafan we're absolutely incredible and made us all at home! Nothing was too much, they made the last memories count! And they are still supporting us now. 

"I'm getting more nervous and excited the closer it comes to the challenge and praying for nice weather."  

Aberdare's Anthony Boggis's son Rhys was diagnosed as the first person in the world with a health condition caused by a gene deletion in one chromosome and was cared for by Tŷ Hafan. 

"Rhys was just 16-years-old when he passed away on 12 July 2019. Rhys fought every day for 16 years and I'm taking on this challenge in memory of him. Additionally, it's my way of thanking Tŷ Hafan for the support they gave to Rhys and the support they continue to give to my family and in particular to Rhys' sister, Carys," said Anthony. 

 "I have a mix of emotions from feeling excited and looking forward to the challenge the camaraderie between us all to feeling daunted and anxious about the magnitude of the challenge. 

"Then kicks in the feeling of determination to complete the task given what Rhys used to fight through on a daily basis and a determination to do Rhys and my family proud in his memory." 

 James Meacham, from Pontllanfraith, said: "I have a feeling of nervous excitement, if there's such a thing. We know it's going to be hard, but we've all trained hard and this group are the most mentally strong people I know. 

"We'll get each other through it, because we know how much Tŷ Hafan means but also because it's a huge opportunity to open up and talk to people in a very small demographic (bereaved parents or parents of terminally ill children) and that's invaluable." 

James added: "My son Thomas was just nine-years-old when he passed away on 2 June 2019. I honestly don't know where we would be without Tŷ Hafan and doing this challenge is one way I can give back." 

 Caerphilly's Chris Thomas's daughter Scarlett was diagnosed with a chromosomal condition so rare that it did not have a name. At seven months old, Scarlett, mum Clair and Chris began to be supported by Ty Hafan. Scarlett passed away in September 2018 aged just four years old. 

 "It's just a bike ride, paddle and walk with the boys for, sorry, how far? 200 plus miles!" laughed Chris. "I'm looking forward to it, but this is going to be a tough one both physically and mentally! 

 "Physically we have all put in the hours to prep as much as possible - and a big shout out to all the girlfriends and wives for putting up with this. 

 "But mentally, that's covered by the support from our team on the day - these guys are amazing, don't tell them that I said so! 

 "Tŷ Hafan is like a supportive family or club, but I wish no one had to join it. But it's so vital it's there. The thought of someone going through the worst life can throw at you without this support doesn't bear thinking about. 

 "We do these challenges to help ensure there is someone there when your world is crashing down around you. That someone is Tŷ Hafan. But it's more than this, it's where you get a chance to enjoy time together and create memories that will last a lifetime. 

 "Sometimes memories are all you have to hold onto. The happy times they create is as important as the support." 

Dan Forbes, from Llantwit Major, said: "I'm feeling a mix of excitement and trepidation. Excited to get into it, click in to 'go' mode and shut out the day-to-day for a bit. Looking forward to having a laugh and seeing the boys. The conversations that come from these challenges are always the highlight for me." 

Dan's son Felix, 12, is supported by Tŷ Hafan and has been since he was three months old when he was diagnosed with a rare genetic order called Lissencephaly with Miller-Dieker Syndrome. 

"Then obviously there's some anxiety towards the enormity of the challenge but I know that as we go through the inevitable slumps as individuals, the power of the group will wrap a metaphorical, and physical arm around that person and spur them forward," added Dan. 

Rhymney's Ryan Tomlinson is taking on the #BikeBoatBoot challenge inspired by his one-year-old son Talis, who was diagnosed with Leigh's syndrome, a rare mitochondrial condition at seven months. 

"The magnitude of this challenge is something I never thought I'd be able to do. I'm feeling a mix of emotions! I'm nervous to be leaving my family but also excited to take part in this mission to bike, boat, boot across Wales," he said. 

"I will keep my son in mind while doing so, his strength to keep fighting every day will give me the upmost determination to keep pushing through if it gets difficult. The money raised will, no doubt, be substantial for Tŷ Hafan. Tŷ Hafan is not just a hospice. Tŷ Hafan gives a new meaning to family." 

Finally, Paul Fears, of Church Village and leader of the group, said: "We lost our son Greg on 14 February 2023 when he was 31. He was born with a life-limiting lung and heart condition, and we were initially told that his life expectancy was just five years. In his mid teens, Greg became very poorly and we were referred to Tŷ Hafan, where our family received incredible care and support for many years.

"In fact, we have been a Tŷ Hafan family ever since, even when Greg reached 19 and could no longer stay at the hospice. Taking on the challenge in memory of Greg gives me the opportunity to thank Tŷ Hafan and also spend precious time with other Dads. Hiking, cycling and kayaking the length of Wales will be extremely challenging, but is nothing compared to what Greg and other Tŷ Hafan children face on a daily basis. 

"Greg was the bravest person I have ever known. He is my inspiration and I miss him dearly." 

James Davies-Hale, Head of Fundraising for Tŷ Hafan, said: "When a child's life will be short, no family should have to face it on their own. There are more than 3,000 children in Wales with life-shortening conditions at the moment and currently we are only able to support one in ten of those families. 

 "We are so grateful to the #BikeBoatBoot team for all that they are doing for us, not just regarding all the money they are raising for us, but for how they are so bravely sharing their own stories about how we have been able to support them. 

 "I hope that everyone will get right behind them as they take on this epic challenge, help them to smash their £50,000 fundraising target and that they have a safe and successful four days." 

 And you can follow their journey on  

     

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