With just two months to go until their latest challenge, the Bike Boat Boot for Tŷ Hafan team are in full training mode.  

This will be the third extreme challenge for this 12-strong group of passionate fundraisers, which is made up of dads and male family members of children supported by Tŷ Hafan, as well as staff from the hospice and key sponsors.

Tredegar’s Ryan Tomlinson, Anthony Boggis from Aberdare, Caerphilly’s Chris Thomas, Dan Forbes from Llantwit Major, Pontllanfraith’s James Meacham, Tŷ Hafan’s Interim Chief Executive Jason Foster from Penarth, brothers Lee and Laurence Morgan from Pentre, corporate supporter Lloyd Davies from Cardiff, Matthew Evans from Swansea, Patrick Lord, who lives in Usk, and Paul Fears from Pontypridd are aiming to cycle, hike and row the length of Wales in just four days.

The men will start on the north coast of Wales, near Conwy on June 27 and are aiming to finish at Tŷ Hafan in the Vale of Glamorgan on June 30.

The route will see them cycle off-road, hike miles of mountain trails, and kayak the length of Lake Bala. The estimated distance is over 200 miles, with the team climbing nearly 20,000 feet.

Of the 12, six – Anthony, Chris, James, Lee, Patrick and Paul are bereaved fathers while Dan Forbes’ son Felix, 11, Ryan Tomlinson’s 11-month-old son Talis, and Matthew Evans’ daughter Darcy, 7, are supported by Tŷ Hafan.

Recently several of the team undertook a 22.5 mile cycle ride between Cribyn and Fan-y-Big and then on to the Taff Trail alongside Talybont Reservoir, with other team members then joining them for an 8.4 mile hike along the Horseshoe Ridge Trail, all part of their training for the challenge itself.

“For me, our training sessions highlight what these challenges are all about and it’s not just about cycling, hiking and kayaking the length of Wales in 4 four-days.  In fact, I would say that the training days are even more important than the challenge itself,” said Paul, who is the leader of the team.

“All of us who did the cycle stage of this training session have lost children, either as a dad or uncle.  We are all continually grieving, irrespective of the years that have passed since our children died.  Grief does not leave you.  You carry it like a rucksack.  And sometimes that rucksack is light and sometimes it is so heavy that you struggle to move.  But it is always there.  And, in a strange way, you never want to put it down.

“Joining other BikeBoatBoot team members on a training walk or cycle ride gives you the opportunity to talk.  You can say things and ask questions that would be difficult or even impossible with other people who have not experienced such a loss”.

The group are aiming to raise £50,000 for Tŷ Hafan and with their total to date on £22,294.

“I look forward to every training session, just to have the chance to walk, cycle and kayak alongside some incredible men. It gives me the opportunity to talk and feel normal”, added Paul.

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 3,000 children in Wales with life shortening conditions and yet we are only able to support one in ten of those families at the moment.

“I am incredibly grateful to Ryan, Anthony, Chris, Dan, James, Jason, Lee and Laurence, Lloyd, Matthew, Patrick and Paul for what they are all doing for us – not just in terms of training for the challenge and doing the challenge itself, but also for the fundraising that they are doing for us.

“The BikeBoatBoot Challenge for Tŷ Hafan is no small undertaking in any way and I hope that as many people as possible will get behind them and help them to reach their goal of raising £50,000.”

To support the Bike, Boat, Boot Team for Tŷ Hafan go to https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/bike-boat-boot

And you can follow their journey on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/5in55

Pictured below, Laurence, Ryan, Paul, Chris and Anthony during the team’s March 9 training day.

The Bike Boat Boot Team in action on March 9 2