Sunday (16 June) is Father’s Day. Here we talk to two Hafan dads finding some comfort in taking on some pretty big challenges in memory of their beloved sons. 

Bereaved father of three Paul Fears from Church Village will soon be attempting to walk, cycle and row the length of Wales from top to bottom in just four days – and all in memory of his late son Greg, and to help others like him.

Paul is one of a team of nine men who will be taking on the extreme Bike Boat Boot Challenge for Tŷ Hafan Children’s Hospice.

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.

Paul, who is leader of the Bike Boat Boot Challenge group, says: “My son Greg was 31 when we lost him on February 14, 2023. Undertaking this challenge is a way of giving back to Tŷ Hafan which has supported me and my family so much.”

Pictured:  Greg Fears with mum and dad Paul and Jackie. Greg lived with congenital heart disease and pulmonary hypertension.

Paul, Greg and Jackie Fears

It’s the third extreme challenge Paul and his group have undertaken for Tŷ Hafan to date with the #5in55 and #10nTaff being their two previous challenges. So far they have raised more than £100,000 for our charity. But while fundraising is a huge element of why they do what they do, Paul says that it’s not the primary driver.

“As a group of dads and uncles with children who have life-limiting illnesses or who have sadly lost their children, challenges such as the Bike Boat Boot length of Wales triathlon for Tŷ Hafan give us an excuse to get together and talk,” he says. “The friendships made are for life. The support the men give each other is priceless.”

Click here to support Paul and the #BikeBoatBoot challenge for Tŷ Hafan team.

Many families supported by Tŷ Hafan share Paul and his fellow #BikeBoatBoot team members’ drive to ‘give back’ to our charity in whatever ways they can.

Jonathan Bugg’s son Daniel was a fit and healthy 14-year-old when he was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of osteosarcoma in his right leg in August 2021.

Pictured: Daniel Bugg, dad Jonathan and big brother Ethan, before Daniel was diagnosed with cancer.

Daniel, Jonathan and Ethan Bugg pre Daniel's diagnosis

“The medics told me me it was cancer,” says Jonathan. “I was on my own at the hospital as my wife Catherine had gone home for a rest and to freshen up. I bawled my eyes out and then phoned Catherine and told her that she really needed to come back to the hospital now. She’d guessed and came back with Ethan, Daniel’s big brother.

“When I walked back into Daniel’s room, before Catherine and his brother had got to the hospital, I found him on the phone to Ethan. And you know what he said? “It’s probably bad news because Dad’s has been crying.”

“Daniel then asked me: ‘Am I going to die from this?’

“And all I could say to him was: ‘These guys going to try very hard to stop that happening.’

Almost two years of gruelling treatments including having his right leg amputated, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and further surgery on his remaining leg, Daniel was given the devastating news that the cancer had metastasized into his lungs.

Says Jonathan, “It was 11 December last year when Daniel told us, “I’m ready go to Tŷ Hafan now.” We were surprised because we knew that his condition was deteriorating but we hadn’t realised that he felt that he was at that stage. But more than any of us, he knew what he needed.

“I can remember wheeling him out of the house. And realising I was probably never going to bring him home again.”

Daniel died on 1 March, 2024, aged just 16.

Just 14 weeks later Jonathan took on the mighty Welsh 3 Peaks challenge for Tŷ Hafan, climbing Yr Wyddfa, Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan all in one day, Saturday June 8.

“I tackled the Welsh 3 Peaks with Daniel’s big sister, Charlotte, and her husband Dylan. We were joined by my other son-in-law Simon, plus friends from around the UK. It was our first time doing this event.

“Why have I done this? The generosity of care given by Tŷ Hafan was huge. It’s holistic. Dying isn’t dignified. But they gave Daniel dignity. Tŷ Hafan gave him his time with family. Surrounded him with things that he wanted. Hospitals can be quite impersonal level – but Tŷ Hafan became family for him. They wanted to understand him.

“To sum up Tŷ Hafan,” adds Jonathan, ‘I would not wish our experience on anyone – but anyone going through our experience I hope they have a Tŷ Hafan to help them.”

Click here to give to Jonathan’s Welsh 3 Peaks fundraising page.