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Trustee laces up boots for mammoth hike – despite health setback

A TRUSTEE of community youth charity, 4 Youth (South West), is preparing to hike 50km in the Thames Path Ultra next month to raise money for the organisation – despite a diagnosis of coronary heart disease earlier this year.

Bryan Clover will take on the challenge on Saturday 9th September, starting at Putney Bridge and finishing at Runneymede. He explained, “Normally, it would be at speed against the clock but this time, it’s all about completing the distance without having a heart attack.”

The charity 4 Youth (South West) supports young people with their mental health through street-based work, counselling and youth clubs. Bryan said, “I’m looking for sponsorship for this hike to raise a few pounds for 4 Youth. Fundraising at the moment is like wading through treacle, so every pound makes a difference and I don’t need to tell you how important our work is.

“If we are to continue to deliver these vital services to the young people of Melksham, we have to bring in the necessary funding.”

Bryan received a diagnosis of coronary heart disease after experiencing severe breathing difficulties on the Jurassic Coast Ultra event in June. He said, “At a basic level, insufficient oxygen reaches my heart when it is under extreme load, like climbing steep hills. Multiple arteries have calcification which restricts the blood flow and hence not enough oxygen reaches the heart muscle. I had to step back from my work’s Challenge 180 event. By the time of the diagnosis, I had managed to complete four of the planned six 30-mile hikes.”

As an avid hiker, Bryan said he was keen to get back to the activity, “Having not done any hiking since early June, I have been going quietly stir crazy and am also at risk of turning into a tub of lard. So, following a chat with the GP, and some very strict instructions from the cardiologist, I’m back in the game.”

Bryan said all are welcome to join him along the way, “If anyone fancies joining me for a stretch of the Thames Path, then feel free – just bring cash or a cheque book! Oh, and cake. Lots of cake. I reckon I’ll burn about 3,500 calories, so cake is essential.”

As well as hiking to fundraise for 4 Youth (South West), Bryan advocates the benefits of the activity for his mental health, particularly after the death of his daughter, Evie, who died in 2018.

He said, “At a personal level, I point blank refuse to be beaten by a bit of excess calcium in my arteries. Hiking has always been a sanctuary for me after Evie’s death and I have to say that my mental health has suffered since I was forced to withdraw from the Jurassic Ultra a few months back. Make no mistake about it, I am doing this hike for me as much as to raise money for 4 Youth, and I will do the hike even if no-one sponsors me; I’m at my happiest when I have a pack on my back and am out hiking.”

Bryan is taking on the challenge for a second time, following last year when he hiked the full 100km in 21 hours and 14 minutes.

To donate to 4 Youth (South West) visit Bryan’s Just Giving page – Bryan Clover is fundraising for 4Youth (South West) (justgiving.com)

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