Northampton man pushes his heart to its limit with 'SAS march' to thank hospice nurses

Andrzej at the Fan Dance which he completed in 5 hours 1 minute and 4 seconds
Andrzej at the Fan Dance which he completed in 5 hours 1 minute and 4 seconds

A Northampton man will take on endurance challenges to help the hospice that cared for his father.

Andrzej Zyms, 44, is taking on a series of extreme endurance challenges in memory of his father, Wojciech Zyms, and the outstanding hospice care he received from St Barnabas House.

Andrzej Wojciech with his niece, Lara, three weeks before he lost his battle with'cancer

Andrzej Wojciech with his niece, Lara, three weeks before he lost his battle with'cancer

Fresh off the back of his first major fundraising event – the National Three Peaks Challenge - in October 2018, Andrzej is celebrating after completing his second challenge, the Fan-Dance, on 6 January.

The famed - and feared - Fan Dance is a gruelling 15.4 mile SAS selection weight-bearing test march staged over Pen-Y-Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons.

It is used as the first major indicator of whether a candidate has the physical and mental aptitude to complete the legendary selection course.

Andrzej said: “I thought that the Three Peaks was hard, but that was nothing compared to the Fan Dance. I think I can safely say that it is, physically and mentally, the hardest thing I have done.

“I went with the expectation of finishing within the seven-hour time limit - the SAS hopefuls have to complete it in less than four hours.

"In the end,I finished in 5 hours 1 minute and 4 seconds.

Andrezej wore his heart rate monitor and was operating at over 90 per cent of his maximum heart rate for two hours 15 minutes, and the rest of the time somewhere between 80 per cent and 90 per cent.

"I was in tatters by the end and had burnt a total of 6,200 calories", he said

Not pausing for long, Andrzej is currently gearing up for his biggest challenge of all – Everest Basecamp – departing from Lukla, Nepal on 11 May 2019.

Andrzej’s series of endurance challenges are all raising money to support the work of St Barnabas House.

The hospice in Worthing, West Sussex, cared for his father, Wojciech, aged 72, during the later stages of his battle with cancer in 2012.

Andrzej said: “Had it not been for St Barnabas, Dad may have had to spend his final weeks in a random, bleak
hospital room. Heading for the unknown, surrounded by the unknown."

St Barnabas arranged for him to have a hospital bed installed in the living room and all the things needed to be comfortable. Nurses came in twice a day to care for him.

Andrzej said the standard of care for his father was high but it was difficult to watch.

He said: "The man that was always my rock, the one I looked up to, was now pretty much helpless and incoherent a lot of the time due to the amount of morphine he needed just to keep the pain at a manageable level.

“But I was able to spend time at Dad's bedside, at his home, surrounded by the people and things he knew and loved.

"All this was made possible by the Hospice at Home service, which is why I am raising money to help St Barnabas House do for many more what they did for my Dad.”

To read more about Andrzej’s experience and follow his fundraising challenges visit his JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andrzej-zyms1