The care a family friend received before her death has motivated “an average man” to undertake an eye-wateringly extreme physical challenge to raise funds for the Dorset charity that treated her.
Next June, Martyn Houldsworth, 37, will complete a 24-hour endurance run, swim 2.8 miles in open water and cycle 360 miles through four countries – all within the space of a week.
Martyn, who lives in Ringwood and works for the Bournemouth-based water retailer Pennon Water Services, describes himself as "an average man who likes running". He was inspired to take on the superhuman challenge after witnessing the care that family friend Cheryl Sheridan received when she spent time in the Macmillan Caring Locally unit, at Christchurch, in the final months of her life.
Cheryl was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer on her 60th birthday and, despite undergoing chemotherapy, she died earlier this month (November).
“The care that Macmillan Caring Locally gave to Cheryl was incredible. They gave her palliative care and when she was in the centre they gave her round clock care for the last few weeks of her life. I can’t speak highly enough of the staff at the unit for all that they did for her,” said Martyn.
Martyn has set himself a target of £5,000 and has already raised £2,000 of this thanks to donations from friends and families – as well as corporate donations from businesses including Pennon Water Services and Santander.
He is currently training hard for the challenge by running between 10 and 20km through the New Forest at weekends and riding his spin bike.
Having taken part in various half marathons, Martyn said he was confident about the running and cycling – but he admitted to being a little nervous about the swimming element of his extreme triathlon as he has not previously swum any long distances. He will be swimming the famous pier to pier swim from Bournemouth to Boscombe pier, a distance of 1.4 miles. Weather permitting, he will then swim back.
“I know that my legs can cope with the running and the cycling but it’s the swimming that’s nagging at me because I haven’t done much long-distance swimming. It’s also in open water so I’ll have the weather to contend with, although there will be safety boats on hand,” he said.
“I know it’s something that as I get closer I’m going to need to put a lot of time into training and there is a pressure there but it’s something that because it’s for such a good cause I know I will get there.”
Martyn’s challenge begins with the Endure 24 run in Reading starting at midday on June 14 with the swim on June 17 and a cycle ride from London to Amsterdam on June 19.
To follow Martyn’s progress or to make a donation, log onto www.abigchallenge.com.