Saturday, 13 July 2024
UK Charity Week 2024 - Sponsored by Sinclair Method UK
Saturday, 13 July 2024

Father-son duo take on Pedal Paddle Peak challenge for Muscular Dystrophy UK

On Saturday 6 July, Nick Shaw, 62, from Winchester and his son Alex, 30, are taking on the Pedal Paddle Peak challenge in the Lake District, which involves a 30-mile cycle, a two-mile canoe paddle and climbing to the peak of Helvellyn mountain.

The team of four, ‘Christopher’s Champions’, also includes Nick’s school friend James Sturt-Scobie, 62, and his son Will, 26. They are taking on the challenge in support of Muscular Dystrophy UK, the leading charity for people in the UK living with one of over 60 muscle wasting and weakening conditions, in memory of Nick’s son and Alex’s brother, Christopher, who lived with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and died in March 2023 aged 27.

Explaining why Pedal Paddle Peak is a fitting tribute to his son Christopher’s memory, Nick Shaw said: 

“Christopher loved travelling and being out in the countryside, despite all the challenges that typically entailed. The Lake District was one of many places that he visited on multiple occasions so when my son Alex and I both saw an email about this challenge for Muscular Dystrophy UK, we knew we wanted to do it. It wasn’t difficult to persuade my friend James and his son to join us and make up a team of four!”

Christopher was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a progressive muscle-wasting condition when he was 15 months old.

Nick said:

“My wife Rachel had been taking Christopher to toddler classes, and someone there noticed that his movements were different to other children his age and suggested we took him for some tests. We weren’t sure what to expect but the tests showed an absence of dystrophin protein and after a biopsy, the consultant confirmed that Christopher had Duchenne muscular dystrophy. I remember that day really clearly. As Duchenne has no cure and we knew it would impact Christopher’s mobility and life expectancy, from that point on we decided that we just had to make the most of life.”

Nick describes Christopher as a cheeky, happy little boy and the family travelled a lot together when he was young – everywhere from the USA to Egypt and Australia.

Nick said:

“Things got harder as Christopher got older. He was in a wheelchair from the age of 12 and travelling became more complicated as we needed to consider how accessible places were. We still made sure that we had great experiences as a family though, spending time in the south of France regularly as well as breaks in Cornwall and the Lake District. Christopher was always asking ‘Where are we going this year, Dad?’ He loved travelling.”

Despite the progression of his condition during childhood and teenage years, Christopher remained positive, and his motivation and strong family bonds helped him to achieve his GCSEs, A Levels and a degree in Illustration. He enjoyed playing video games with his brother and spending time with his family.

The ‘Pedal Paddle Peak’ Lake District challenge starts in Penrith with a 15-mile cycle followed by a two-mile canoe paddle on Ullswater Lake. Once back on dry land, teams cycle to the base of Helvellyn to complete the ‘Peak’ part of the challenge – climbing to the mountain peak, before getting on their bikes again for the final 15-mile pedal to finish back in Penrith. As ‘Christopher’s Champions’, Nick, Alex, James and Will are hoping to complete Pedal Paddle Peak in under nine hours and have been training for the pedal and peak aspects.

Nick said:

“The paddle is going to be the hardest part of the challenge I think, as that’s the bit we haven’t really been able to train for.”

“I’ve taken on running challenges for Muscular Dystrophy UK before – the Great North Run and triathlons – but this is the first time I’ve done something like this, and it’s Alex’s first fundraising challenge for the charity. It has been a real incentive to keep fit while also raising money for a cause close to our hearts. We’ve already exceeded our £6,000 fundraising target but want to raise as much as we can so that the charity can continue to fund groundbreaking research as well as provide support for individuals and families living with muscle-wasting conditions.”

Kiera Santry, Challenge Events Manager at Muscular Dystrophy UK said:

“We’re so grateful to Nick, Alex, James and Will for choosing to support us and take on the Pedal Paddle Peak challenge in memory of Christopher. Thanks to fundraising like this, we can continue to improve understanding of muscle wasting conditions, provide advice and support to individuals and families who need it, and help fund groundbreaking research.”

Pedal Paddle Peak – The Lake District is sold out but there are spaces available for Pedal Paddle Peak – Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) in September. Find out more about the event and other challenges at  www.musculardystrophyuk.org/get-involved/events.

To support ‘Christopher’s Champions’, please visit: www.justgiving.com/page/christopherschampions-ppp.

Find out more about Muscular Dystrophy UK at: www.musculardystrophyuk.org.

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