Channel challenge in memory of Swindon's Zak Hobbs
5:35pm Tuesday 11th September 2012 in By Scott D'Arcy
THREE fundraising fitness fanatics made a relay Channel swim in memory of a boy who died of cancer.
Simon Harris 47, brother Matt, 40, and Nick Hague, 42, braved the waters of the English Channel to swim the 23- mile distance between Dover and the rocks of Cap Gris Nez in memory of Zak Hobbs. Zak died las September after a long battle with Neuroblastoma.
The trio are family friends of Zak’s parents, Sam Warren and Chris Hobbs, of Haydon Wick. They were no strangers to touch challenges to date, as Simon and Matt had cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats and Simon completed an Iron Man triathlon.
Zak was just five when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma in October 2009.
After responding well to surgery, chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment, it came back aggressively in January 2011 and paralysed him from the waist down.
Simon said: “We wanted to do something in memory of Zak after his brave two-year battle with Neuroblastoma, and having already done the cycle fundraiser, the swim was next on the list.
“Both Matt and I were keen to do something extreme to encourage people to support the Neuroblastoma Society after Zak died last year, and we roped Nick in, too.”
The three had to complete a recognised 10km open water swim in order to be allowed to tackle the English Channel, which they successfully completed at Eton Dorney.
Simon and Nick trained together at the Cotswold Lakes, while Matt trained off the north coast of Cornwall, where he lives.
Simon said: “The training schedule was pretty tough and we were in the lake six days a week. We had to acclimatise to the sea temperatures, as we were not allowed to wear wet suits, just a swimming cap, goggles and swim trunks.
“It was midnight when we set off and it was like being in a dark room – we could not see where we were going or where we had come from. It was incredibly hard work.
“But when you looked up into the sky and thought of the little man it gave you a little push. It took us more than 13 hours in total and we all jumped in to swim the last half-mile together.”
Matt said: “The thought of what treatment Zak had to endure during his illness kept us all going. He was such a brave character and his spirit throughout his treatment was an inspiration to us all.
“We wanted to raise awareness of Neuroblastoma to aid early diagnosis and help to prevent other families suffering the loss of a child.”
To support the swimmers, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/TeamZak and help them to raise as much money as possible to fund research into treatment for Neuroblastoma.
And to find out more information on this rare, aggressive disease, visit www.nsoc.co.uk