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Bannatyne Success Stories

Bannatyne Success Stories

Mark Bedford  - Kingsford Park

We are well and truly moving along with 2020. We continually talk to our members about their personal challenges and goals they have achieved to date and what their plans are for the coming year. Mark Bedford, a member of our Kingsford Park club, is most definitely on a mission to overcome adversity.

In February 2019, a mass was discovered on Mark’s right kidney. He was told the odds of it being cancerous were 85 to 90%. Due to the size of the mass, it was decided to monitor it for six months with continued scans and ultrasounds. During the same meeting, it was also discussed that at some point an operation would be inevitable, but there would be no timeline. Mark was told that it would be of benefit for him to lose weight, not only for continued health reasons, but also to assist with the operation and the recovery once the procedure had been done.

Mark decided it was high time he started to use his membership at Kingsford Park for the purpose he had originally purchased it: to lose weight and get fitter. Not only did he become an avid fan and regular of RPM & spin, he also signed up for Hatton Boxing with the now departed Ksenia, which he enjoyed. As Mark became fitter, he realised he really enjoyed the environment and the other members and staff at Kingsford Park, so much so, he decided that he would look into what he would have to do to get qualified as an instructor.

Mark has signed up to a number of local events for which he will be training very hard. These include tabbing Para’s 10, ROC24 team event and even a sprint triathlon. Mark believes that the only explanation for this strange turn in events is a mid-life crisis. But really, he knows it is down the truly inspirational individuals he has met whilst on his journey, both at Kingsford Park, members and instructors alike, and external activities such as Parkrun and Colchester Bootcamp.

Mark is current studying for his Level 2 gym instructors’ qualification with which he hopes to complete by the end of February. He will then continue his training, right through to level 4, specialising in diabetes and obesity, both of which Mark has experienced.

John - Durham

Well done to John! John has been a member at our Bannatyne Health Club Durham since February 2019.

John suffers from Parkinson’s disease and was diagnosed around seven years ago. Parkinson’s is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement and affects everyone differently. John’s journey with Parkinson’s started with stroke like symptoms down his left-hand side before being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Through appointments at North Tyneside Hospital John was referred to Speedflex in Newcastle to help control the disease and to try and reteach his body some of his lost movement and mobility. John was pre-diabetic 18 months ago and weighed around 21st. He used to get arm pains when walking due to the disease and had to use a stick to walk longer distances. For shorter distances John uses objects to help him balance such as tables, walls, equipment in the gym etc but has to really concentrate to walk properly and heel strike first.

John now attends about three Speedflex classes each week at Bannatyne Durham and through this exercise, along with dietary changes, has dropped to approximately 16st!

He said “My mobility and range of movement is getting better and the pains I get when walking have become less. I believe this is all down to Speedflex.”

John enjoys coming to the classes because it gives him a ‘rush’. He has made friends within the club along the way and has noticed improvements in his physiological state. He also likes the fact that Speedflex leaves you with little to no soreness after exercising. John uses a Myzone belt to track his efforts, his calories burned, and get feedback from his workouts. He says the belt pushes him to train harder than he would without it and on one occasion when he did forget his belt, he did not enjoy the class as much. John has recently hit his first ever red effort zone and also managed to complete his monthly World Health Organization target 1300 MEPS (Myzone Effort Points) for the month of December and earned himself Iron status ranking. He is looking forward to pushing himself even further to improve his fitness, and to gain his Bronze status. Well done John, keep up the great effort!

Louise - Dumfries

Have you been sticking to your New Year's resolution? One of our Dumfries members, Louise Laurie, wants to share her story so far and her goals for the next year with you!

Louise said: "My weight loss journey started in July 2008. After attending a family wedding and seeing what size I was in the pictures, I decided it was time to lose some weight. I was also borderline diabetic. I joined Weight Watchers the following week weighing 16 stone 9lb! With hard work and determination, I aimed to lose around 5 stone.

“This target came, and I wanted to lose more! The week I got married in February 2010 I weighed 10 stone 6lb - my final target weight.

“I joined Bannatyne Dumfries in March 2016 because I wanted to maintain my weight loss but also start toning my body and keeping my fitness levels up at the same time. Whilst at Bannatyne's I attended cardio classes and had a weights programme which I followed.

“Around September 2018 and nearly approaching 40 in February 2019 I was not happy so decided I wanted to change my body shape. Between October and December 2018, I lost a total of 16 inches by changing my routine.

“Since July 2019 I have resumed weight training 4-5 times a week, with limited cardio along with personal training whilst still maintaining my weight.

“My weight loss goals going forward over the next 12 months are changing on a week to week basis due to pending surgery. Unfortunately, this brings a lot of anxiety due to a strict rest period of 6-8 weeks, but until the time comes, I will continue to work towards my goals of building muscle, strength work and personal training along with good nutrition and thinking positively towards my recovery.

“Post-surgery my goal will be to slowly start building my strength back up with limited weights and personal training. I will then reevaluate where I am once fully recovered and then make a new set of goals to work towards! My weight loss journey has been one long road with tears, frustrations, anxiety, wanting to give up, determination and hard work - however it was also a lifestyle change I committed to when deciding to lose so much weight and follow my dream. It has all been worth it and even more so in the coming months ahead.

“All the staff at Bannatyne's are fantastic, but I can’t thank Robert (fitness manager) enough for all his help, support and encouragement. With personal training he has pushed me completely out my comfort zone at times!"

Claire - Mansfield

We have been chatting with one of the members at our Mansfield club, Claire Mackintosh, about her fitness journey so far and her goals for the new year.

Claire said: “I joined Bannatyne Mansfield eight years ago wanting to lose weight and get fit.  I weighed a stone and a half more than I do now and was totally unfit.  I never imagined how it would change my body, social circle and become part of my life!

“I initially started using the gym but, I didn’t particularly like working out on my own.  I quickly realised that classes were the way forward for me.  It was a game changer and I really enjoy the variety available.  My regular weekly classes are Strong by Zumba HIIT, body pump, body combat, B/Strong, B/Conditioned, SpeedFlex, blubfit and the occasional body balance.  I also use the virtual system too if I’m not able to make a class which is a fantastic option.

“However, after several years, weight had started to creep back on, and I’d managed to gain over a stone in a year.  This was extremely frustrating as I felt like I was pushing myself physically but still putting on weight.

“So, I decided to finally bite the bullet at the beginning of November and see Laura for an Inbody scan and some advice.  I was shocked by the results; it was definitely the kick up the bum I needed!  Laura pointed out that the main problem was my diet – eating far too many carbs and not enough protein.  She gave me some helpful suggestions and I really started to think about what I was eating.  Six weeks later and I had lost almost 5lbs in weight and 2% body fat.   

“Laura gave me my induction eight years ago when I first joined, and I have loved her ever since.  She is an amazing instructor who really knows her stuff and I now feel motivated with a goal thanks to Laura.

“I’ve still got a way to go however, with Christmas and New Year out of the way I can concentrate on getting back on track and continue in the right direction.''

Debbie & Trevor Rush - Bury St Edmunds

We have been chatting with Debbie and Trevor Rush from our Bury St Edmunds club about their joint fitness journey with us. 

Debbie said: “When we joined the Bannatyne Bury St Edmunds club, we were two unfit people! Exercise had no place in our lives. We fell in love with spin classes and over a three-year period lost more than 21kgs between us.
“Using MyZone has been a great help. We have a lot of banter with lovely like minded members whilst being able to have individual goals to achieve.
“Finding something that is fun and not just exercise has made getting fit a great journey. Who knew we would be cycling 62 miles? Fitness through fun has really caught up with us.”

Lucy - Newcraighall

Personal trainer Daniel Renton shares his Christmas story of Bannatyne Health Club Newcraighall Member, Lucy Craig. Read Dan’s blog below:

What a difference a year makes! “I will start after Christmas”. How long are you willing to wait? Sure it’s scary, it’s a risk (well it’s not actually!) But everything valuable worth having comes with a certain element of risk? I have coached literally thousands of folk over the years to improve not just their body, but their confidence, the way they carry themselves, and their lifestyle. All of them didn’t want to do it, they gave me their best excuses, they didn’t want to feel uncomfortable both financially and physically. I wanted them to stop waiting and putting off the challenge, so I pushed them because I knew what was on the other side, the rewards they would get from feeling at their physical peak. Individuals tend to put off getting in shape and especially at this time of year, they literally stop focusing on their health because they are worried to take the challenge (or they succumb to the mindset that Christmas is an excuse to do nothing!) Your body can do almost anything, it’s your mind you need to convince. You can do a lot of damage in a month…or you could start now.

Lucy joined Bannatyne’s as a size 28 and is now a comfortable size 18. We are now moving on to the next stage of her journey and are aiming for a size 16 in the next 12 weeks then a size 14 by the summer. Lucy can’t wait to see next Christmas progress pictures! She has lost over 50lbs and is aiming for 50lbs more by the summer which will be an amazing achievement.

Lucy is 19 years old and a busy professional, she runs her own very successful make up business which can be hard to balance work and fitness, but she is very determined!

Elizabeth - Cookridge Hall

We caught up with Elizabeth, a member of our Cookridge Hall club, about her fantastic weight loss.

Elizabeth said: “Over the last eight months I have managed to lose three stone and drop two dress sizes - although it hasn't been easy!

“Back in January 2019, my brother's partner asked if I would be a bridesmaid at their wedding in 2020. I knew I wanted to lose weight for the big day, so I started going to the gym a couple of times a week, mainly focusing on cardio. After a few months, I realised what I was doing wasn't working.

“I completely changed my diet and began tracking my calories, even the ones I definitely didn't want to track! I started using a MyZone belt to track my workouts which made me quickly realise I hadn't been working to my full potential at all! I included a lot more strength and circuit training into my gym routine and started to notice a difference in my body.

“With the help of weekly personal training sessions alongside my own training and nutrition plan, I'm steadily losing body fat and becoming stronger. I don't rely on weighing scales to monitor my progress, I take pictures frequently and use the InBody machine. I'm still not where I want to be but I'm focusing on the progress I have made!”

Paula - Cardiff

Paula Joyce, a member of our Cardiff club, is celebrating after achieving a fantastic weight loss. Paula joined our Cardiff club in January 2019 in order to increase her fitness levels after she was diagnosed with diabetes. Since then, she has achieved a fantastic weight loss of 38lbs, which is almost three stone!

Paula said that a healthy diet and increasing her exercise regime has helped her massively, as well as attending a range of Bannatyne classes. We’re glad you’ve enjoyed your fitness journey so far and look forward to helping you achieve more fantastic results in 2020!

Naomi - Cardiff

We caught up with a member of our Cardiff club, Naomi Tugwell about her fitness journey.

Naomi said: “I'm hoping by sharing my story that I might encourage anyone who is struggling with weight loss, fitness and/or healthy living.

“I've been on this weight loss journey for a few years. In school I was bullied for being "fat" even though I wasn't. As a coping mechanism I started comfort eating which in turn made me podgy and overweight, not excessively, but I was definitely a lot bigger than I had been.

“I had tried so many times to lose weight and feel comfortable in my skin, but all I ended up doing was self-loathing and getting very, very depressed.

“I then started doing some home workouts. It felt good, but I knew I wasn't doing my best, so I took the plunge and signed up to Bannatyne Cardiff. I had great days and really bad days, that turned into a week or two, but pushed myself to carry on.

“I definitely fell off the horse a lot and cried thinking I'd never get anywhere with my body, but I kept going. I'm so thankful that I kept pushing through because not only do I feel a ton better, but a miracle happened! I went away last month and for the first time EVER I wore a bikini! Albeit I never took my shorts off, I still wore a bikini. I never ever thought I'd reach this point, so keep going because you can too!”

Graeme - Hastings

Meet Graeme a current member of Bannatyne Hastings who served in the Royal Navy for 16 years before he was medically discharged due to a renal condition in 2007. 

Graeme became a member through Duncan Bannatyne's offer of free membership at our health clubs for veterans living with PTSD. 

On leaving the Royal Navy he started Dryad Maritime - a business that provided anti-piracy and counter terrorist forecasts to ship Captains. The business grew to £2.5M turn over employing 50 ex-navy veterans.  In this time it became apparent that he was he was suffering from PTSD and in 2017 this came to a head when he was no longer able to work and sought help.

 The incident that caused the PTSD occurred when Graeme was second in command of a Mine Hunting Ship and due to a miscommunication, the ship’s crew were placed in mortal danger.  Aware of the threat, Graeme was unable to prevent the incident from happening which led to the illness. 

 The illness, which sufferers experience as constantly being on guard, requires medication, talking therapy to address the cause of the symptoms and self-care, using relaxation techniques and exercise.  Physical exercise has been shown to be particularly effective for ex-military veterans which is why Graeme believes membership of Bannatyne health clubs is so important.

 Today, Graeme is turning his hardship into a positive and has produced a YouTube video* to offer his help and support to other people suffering with PTSD.

 Graeme said: “Just as I was given a veteran’s place at Bannatyne’s, I was offered a chance to do some occupational therapy, which was six months of hard physical labour outside in the fresh air in Somerset. Now that’s over I plan to focus on my physical health by continuing my hard work at the gym and posting more videos of my progress to encourage other sufferers to get exercising.

 “If I met Duncan Bannatyne, I would simply thank him for this amazing scheme. This is the best practical support you could ever give a veteran with PTSD. I am so incredibly grateful.”


Simon - Sutton Coldfield

Meet Simon, a current member at Sutton Coldfield. Simon was offered the opportunity to join our health club after Duncan Bannatyne offered hundred of free memberships for veterans with PTSD, with every one of our 72 health clubs taking part. 

Simon, who is now self-employed, served for nearly 24 years in the Royal Air Force and issues from his service, particularly a tour of Afghanistan in 2006 affected his confidence and caused stress and anxiety, eventually diagnosed as PTSD.

Through his GP, Birmingham NHS Veterans' Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) and the charity Walking With The Wounded, Simon has accessed counselling, which is helping with his mental health.

 Simon has raised more than £16,000 for Walking With the Wounded over the last four years and is currently walking a virtual journey from Afghanistan to the National Memorial Arboretum, more than 3,600 miles which he hopes to complete on 23rd December as part of the charity’s Walking Home For Christmas event. 

 Recently Simon joined two other veterans and campaign ambassadors, including Wayne Bridge and two leading actors from Sam Mendes’ new film 1917- George MacKay and Dean Charles Chapman to launch the 2019 fundraising. 

 He has also completed the Cumbrian Challenge, walking the tougher route of 32.5 miles, which Simon says is “one of the most demanding physical challenges I have done for a long time.”

 In December Simon is taking part in the British Rowing Indoor Championships in London on 7/12 with a Help for Heroes team.

 Simon said: “Facing the fact that I have mental health concerns was a big issue as I did not want to admit I had problems or show weakness, and there was a part that was survivor’s guilt.

 “The counselling is very positive and through fitness I have a far greater positivity and outlook.  I am able to use the gym during quieter periods to reduce anxiety levels and with the support of the staff there have seen tangible results in my health and wellbeing over the last few months.  My family has seen the benefits of using the gym in my personality and behaviours.

Tashana - Luton

Meet Tashana Gregory, a member of our Luton club. Tashana is 17 and has been with us for around eight months, with a fitness goal of increasing her muscle mass.

Tashana said: “I first began to go to the gym as part of my netball training to further develop my muscular strength when landing and passing the ball with power. While still training with my team, I became a member at Bannatyne Luton, and this is where my love for training grew stronger!

“BodyPump was one of the first classes I attended, and it quickly became my favourite. The class introduced me to different techniques and methods of exercising which, after a month or so, gave me the confidence to train on my own on the gym floor.

“After creating my own workouts and beginning my routine, I began to notice results and changes to my body and I loved it. It gave me the motivation to train with the love and passion I do now. I am studying to become a personal trainer to help other people see results and hopefully fall in love with fitness the way I did!”

Rob - Banbury

We caught up with Rob Nichols, a member of our Banbury club, about his fundraising efforts.

Throughout 2019, Rob Nichols and Harry Horner, are cycling more than 22,000 km East to the Japan, ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ in order to raise £22k to install solar power for the Lotus Children’s Centre in Mongolia.

Rob said: “We are raising money to install a solar PV system at the Lotus Children's Centre in Mongolia, a wonderful home for orphaned and abandoned children which we were able to visit on our journey. The PV system significantly reduce the centre’s operation cost, is aligned with the cycle's environmental ethos, and will seek to raise awareness for Ulaanbaatar as the world's worst polluted city. 

“As we come to the journey's close, we would like to raise the profile of our trip, and in so doing raise interest in Lotus and our project for them.”

For more information about their trip, visit the website: https://www.farsidestudio.com/risingsuncycle/.

If you would like to donate to Lotus Children’s Centre, please visit: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=RisingSunCycle&isTeam=true

Kayleigh - Ayr

We would like to wish one of our hugely inspirational members at our Ayr club & Swimstars instructor Kayleigh, the very best of luck as she represents Great Britain at the World Para Athletics World Championships in Dubai this week! 

Kayleigh has cerebral palsy and has completed competitively in swimming and athletics since 2011. At the world championships she will be completing on a RaceRunner which is a customer-built trike that prevents her from falling over and enables her to focus on speed. Last year, Kayleigh broke the world record in the RR2 100m at the European championships in Berlin, yet this is the first time the sport will appear at the World Championships. 

Kayleigh said: 'I've been working really hard since early last year hoping to be selected. I'm so honoured to represent Great Britain for the second time - it's up there as one of my greatest achievements so far. I just want to enjoy the experience, grow as an athlete and hopefully come away with a personal best time - I can't really ask for anything more than that.'

All of the team at Bannatyne are rooting for her, and we're sure she will be rewarded for all of her hard work! 

Tom - Norwich

Bannatyne Norwich would like to show you what physical exercise can do for you and your mental health. Here is Tom, one of the amazing personal trainers! Here is Tom's story. "At the age of 15, I was diagnosed with anorexia and I suffered with this illness for more than 12 months, it was a very hard time of my life. But in late 2015, I realised enough was enough!

“I began training and lifting weights. The weight training was especially good for my mental health as it released endorphins and built my confidence when presenting myself. I now promote fitness as fitness advisor at Bannatyne Norwich." If you would like to know more and see how you can improve your mental health by exercising come and see our PTs in your local club today!

Max - Bury St Edmunds

Our Bury St Edmunds club has shared its ‘Member of the Month’ success story with us.

Max Venmore-Rowland has achieved a fantastic weight loss so far and is on track to keep smashing his goals!

Max said: “In 2018 I hit my heaviest ever weight and found that I was becoming less mobile and finding that my size was becoming a real problem.

“While I had joined the gym, I was frustrated at a lack of progress. I decided to seek out help and Karl became my personal trainer late in 2018.  

“Karl has been an inspiration and has opened up a new perspective of fitness training. His encouragement and commitment to my goals even when they seem far off, is brilliant.  Thanks to Karl I actually enjoy the fitness experience and I am challenging myself to achieve things I thought were in my past. Karl manages to make every session different, whether it be stamina, strength, core or cardio there is a mix of challenges including boxing sparring which is new to me. Another aspect important to me is has been the improvement of my general mobility.

“I have a long way to go - the next landmarks will be hitting 130kg and then 120kg but now I have confidence I can achieve them.

“Thank you Karl!”

Patricia - Kingsford Park

We have been speaking to one of our longest standing members at our Kingsford Park club, Trish. She has been through a lot over the last couple of years but is still as lively and positive as ever.

After being diagnosed with bowel cancer in July last year, Trish fought through the chemotherapy treatment and had a section of bowel removed. This didn't dissuade her from still coming in to swim and make her holiday. During further check-ups after going into remission, they found three growths on her liver which she is still receiving treatment for.

Trish's determination and positive mindset is uniquely joyful and lovely to be around. Upon asking what has kept her going, Trish said: "Coming to the club has helped, it's been great to socialise, and I have recommended it to several people who are now members. I have a very strong family behind me and the support of my husband. It also helps to keep your sense of humour. I've also got the added bonus of being Scottish and made of girders!”

Having a positive mindset goes a long way but having a strong support network for the lows and the highs is very important. It's always ok to ask for help or share your thoughts and feelings to friends and family. There is always someone to help keep your spirits up.

Dennis - Lowestoft

We have been catching up with the Stimpson family about their time at Bannatyne Lowestoft. Take a read of Dennis' testimonial from his sessions with fitness advisor, Vikki. 

Dennis said, 'When my wife came home from her first few sessions with Vikki, I was impressed with the technicalities she was being taught and her level of motivation, so I decided to book just a few sessions myself. 

'I have attended the gym for a number of years and thought it would be a good idea to get some professional knowledge and assessment of how I was using the equipment available at the gym. Vikki's in-depth technical knowledge, her attention to small details and her obviously genuine and real interest in her clients has been impressive and exactly what I wanted. 

'As an example, I had a knee injury and never used any leg machines. She has worked with me on this and I can now use them without strain or injury. I now use a greater variety of exercises, both off and on the resistance machines and much more importantly, I am enjoying exercise and coming to the gym!' 

'I use the gym to try keep fit and whilst I do not use Vikki for cosmetic results, it's still gratifying to have such positive comments from friends and family. 

'If you are looking for a personal trainer or fitness advisor, I can thoroughly recommend Vikki, whatever your age or physical condition, she will offer a genuine interest in working with you.' 

Well done with your results Dennis. Keep smashing it in the gym! 

Christine - Wakefield

Meet Christine, a member of our Wakefield club. We think she is a true inspiration, proving that age is just a number! Christine is 73 years young. She has been a member of our Wakefield health club for more than 11 years and she has built a lot of friendships with fellow members and staff. Christine enjoys attending regular classes each week including Body Combat, Body Attack, Body Pump, Metafit, Hiit Circuit and her new favourite classes are the B:Functional classes. 

Even though Christine is partly sighted, this has never stopped her working to her maximum ability and challenging the younger generation to keep up. Christine pushes her limits and likes to keep challenging herself, so much so that she purchased a MyZone belt. Christine says that “MyZone has helped improve my fitness” and each month she has been smashing her recommended MEPs (myzone effort points). She currently has nine months left before she will reach hall of fame status. During her time at Bannatyne Wakefield she has inspired a lot of members and staff with her ‘never give up’ attitude. 

Thank you for being a part of the Wakefield club Christine and well done on your fitness journey so far!

Richard - Mansfield

Meet Richard, a member of Bannatyne Mansfield. Richard joined Bannatyne more than a year ago and has recently decided to make a massive change to his daily routine, by balancing a healthy lifestyle & nutrition with exercise. 

Richard said, 'On returning from a recent holiday, I got on the scales at home and was at my heaviest ever weight, 15st 9lbs. I have been a member of Bannatynes now for over a year however, my visits weren't that frequent. 

'I booked in to have an induction with Luke, and as part of my induction I was weighed on the InBody machine. The results were far from ideal, the main thing picked out was that my muscle mass was below the required level and my body fat percentage was way too high at 40%, yes 40%! The machine also gave lots of other important information about my body and I received a printout of the report. During the induction Luke also showed me how to use the gym equipment, gave me a suggested workout plan and advised on the best classes to attend. 

'After just four weeks of sticking to a very low fat, low calorie diet and following my work out plan, I had reduced my weight by 20lbs and my fat percentage by 5%. 

'I can't praise the team at Bannatyne Mansfield enough, everyone always makes me feel welcome and the instructors are great and full of encouragement to keep me motivated and on track to achieve my goal. 

'I am looking forward to continuing this journey with Bannatynes and look forward to my new healthier lifestyle.'

Sarezah - Kingsford Park

Anybody who has known Sarezah from the start of her transformation will agree it's nothing short of amazing. She started her journey at 32.7 stones and just over a year ago, we highlighted her amazing weight loss at the five year mark, dropping half her body weight. 

Now, we are just over the six-year mark and she has been keeping up her training and refining her shape, strength and movement. Sarezah has dropped to a comfortable 13.6 stones, that's a total weight loss of 19.1 stones. 

Whilst on this journey, she has come across many obstacles, and one of her main issues was with her knees and shoulders. Carrying that much weight has caused knee stress and signs of osteoarthritis, so maintaining joints has been a real focus, including stretching and light warm ups. One of the biggest factors was to not 'leap before looking' during some classes. Anything that might over stress the joints was avoided, and alternatives found until it was felt the joints could handle one or two to test the effect. 

The combination of diet, personal training, classes and gym work, but most of all a personal determination, has led to this amazing transformation and we will assist in any way possible as her journey continues! 

Michael & Tom - 10 in 10 Gambia Challenge

A message from our Darlington members, Michael and Tom, who are hoping to increase their fundraising for their trip to Gambia following the collapse of Thomas Cook this week. 

Emergency Funding Appeal

Dear friends, family and partners who have supported us on our challenge to run 10 marathons in 10 days across The Gambia so far. 

It saddened us to see the collapse of one of the UK's most trusted travel companies, Thomas Cook, which saw more than one million people, including our 10 in 10 team, affected as a result of ceasing trading. 

We understand that there are people who are in a far worse position than ourselves, with some people having weddings cancelled and losing their jobs - our hearts go out to everyone affected in some way. 

We need your help now, more than ever before to raise the £10,000 we set out to achieve and if possible, raise more to help the people of The Gambia during this hard time. If there are any companies out there who could give generously to raise as much money as possible and to ensure our team can still make the challenge in The Gambia possible. The Gambian government has held an emergency meeting over the collapse of Thomas Cook. There is concern that it will heavily impact tourism which contributes more than 30% of The Gambia's GDP.
When we first started planning this challenge, the potential collapse of our travel provider, didn’t ever cross our minds. It has hit us hard, as every member of our team, including myself and Michael, have invested large amounts of time and money to make this challenge possible. We have built up an incredible support team, who were meant to be joining us in The Gambia, offering medical expertise, security and filming to show to everybody who has supported us in some way over the
last year the incredible journey we have gone through. The team joining us in The Gambia consisted of more than ten people who had all individually paid to travel to The Gambia to assist us at their own expense, as the causes we are raising money for have a huge connection to them personally, which sadly could all be lost now.
We set out eight months ago with the aim of raising £10,000 for three incredible charities, which have a huge connection to every single one of us. The collapse of the company which was taking us from the UK to The Gambia isn’t going to stop us, whether we have to walk, crawl or swim there - we are doing this challenge, and nothing will stop us!
However, we need your help more than ever before. We simply cannot do this challenge without our support team who will be providing their services to keep us alive in what is essentially a life- threatening challenge.

Not only has this had a huge impact on our team and with the dwindling possibility that the challenge may not be possible without our support team, the collapse of Thomas Cook will have a detrimental impact on this country which relies solely on tourism as their income. Thomas Cook Airlines Ltd was the main tour operator for The Gambia, and of the 100,000-150,000 tourists visiting The Gambia each season (October – April) 60% are UK Citizens using Thomas Cook airlines.
The Gambia is one of the poorest countries in the world, with the average wage being £1 per day. That’s right, only £1 per day!! The 2019/20 tourist season is going to be hit hard, which consequently will cause mass amounts of local people without an income to provide food for their family.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far.
Tom and Michael, and The 10 in 10 Gambia team ❤️ 

Jack - Lowestoft

'In September 2018, I felt like a fit and healthy 24-year old. I was working, training in the gym, I felt completely normal, unbeknownst to what was really going on inside me. 

'A couple of weeks into the month I developed a rash on my torso, swiftly followed by extreme night sweats and fatigue. I ignored it for a while, hoping it would sort itself out and I went to the chemist for some cream hoping it would the rash out; how wrong I was!

'After a couple of weeks of trying different creams, I booked to see the doctor to explain that nothing was working. Whilst I was there, I started to explain my other symptoms and he recommended a blood test, to hopefully shine a light on what was going on. 

'Friday 12th October 2018, the morning after my blood test, I get the phone call, 'Jack, the doctor would like to see you urgently, can you come in?'

'So off i went, not knowing what to expect. On arrival at the doctors, I am sent straight through and he had just finished a phone call with the hospital. His only words were, 'Jack, I have an idea of what this is, but I need you to go as soon as possible to have further tests, it's not going to be nice but we have to get the ball rolling, good luck!' 

'I arrived at the hospital on the 16th, still with no idea as to what was wrong. I was directed to the ward from reception..'The Cancer Ward'. 

'I sat down, surrounded by posters and patients, hoping deep down that I had taken a wrong turn or that the consultant may have been the only one available at the time.

'After seeing the consultant, he explained that he was 90% certain I had Hodgkin's Lymphoma, however I'd need a PET scan and a biopsy to make sure 100% and to see how far it had spread. Within the following couple of weeks, I underwent the scan and biopsy and nervously awaited the results. 

'Results day arrived and it was confirmed, Stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Something that could have been developing for over a year before.'

'Not understanding the states of Cancer at the time, stage 4 is the most advanced and for many other cancers, it's difficult to treat. But being a blood cancer, I was reassured I'd still have an 85% chance of recovering. I could beat this!

' I knew there was nothing I could do to change the outcome, apart from put my trust in the consultants and nurses to remain positive. The consultant explained the chemotherapy timetable to me and said it would take between four to eight cycles, each cycle consisting of four round of chemotherapy. I remember jokingly saying I would beat it in four!

'Tuesday 20th November, the start of my chemo journey, the strongest they could give me. I signed off the sheets and entered the unknown. After the first cycle was over, my hair started to fall out, a small change but a sign in my eyes that the chemo was doing it's thing - its working! 

'Cycle two soon followed a couple of weeks after that and on Christmas Eve, I had my interim PET scan. I was feeling optimistic. I had embraced the changes and I was still positive that everything was going to be okay. 

'2nd January 2019 - results day - Happy new year!  - two cycles down and look at the reaction already. After meeting with the consultant again, he recommended two more cycles, just to make sure for certain that I would hopefully remain clear, followed by another PET scan just to confirm. Was I really going to do this in 4 cycles? Two more cycles swiftly passed and by the end of February, it was over. 

'10th April - Remission. I felt on top of the world, with a completely different outlook on life. It wasn't until I started to feel better after the treatment , that I realised just how ill I was before. At the time however, it felt like normality because Hodgkin's Lymphoma is invisible. 

''The idea of this , is to just raise some awareness to the disease and the symptoms to look out for:

  • Night Sweats
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • enlarged Lymph Nodes
  • A persistent cough or feeling of breathlessness
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Increased risk of infections

'At the start of June, I returned to Bannatyne Lowestoft. I felt nervous to start with because I felt like I was starting all over again. However, the support of fellow members and staff has been fantastic, and I am now getting back on track.

'I hope this can be used to encourage somebody who has been on the same journey or currently going through it, not to be afraid, to remain positive and to let them know that the support is there. 

'The gym is not just for physical health, but also your mental health and wellbeing. Most importantly, listen to your body and enjoy life.''