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Barnet mum completes charity challenge begun by now departed friend

A Barnet mum of three has seen to completion a charity challenge begun by a friend before he passed away

two people pose for the camera
Andy Jones and Angela Charalambous

Andy Jones, a fitness instructor and mountain leader from Buntingford, Hertfordshire, embarked on a virtual Land’s End to John o’ Groats (LE JOG) cycling challenge in December to raise funds for Brain Tumour Research  after being diagnosed with a glioblastoma (GBM), a fast-growing type of tumour of the brain or spinal cord last April.

The father-of-three underwent surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy but, sadly, died in a hospice in January this year. He was 57 years old.

Jones began his epic 1,189-mile journey on a Turbo Trainer and continued it on a MOTOmed system after being admitted to a hospice, managing a total of 56 miles before passing away. As his health deteriorated, and the possibility of completing his miles seemed less likely, he reached out to family and friends to help add to his total.

On 24 March, the remaining 830 miles were realised during a spin event at Sopers House in Cuffley, where Andy’s nephew Dan Marriott is a personal trainer and fitness instructor.

Andy’s friend and business manager Angela Charalambous, from Barnet,said: “Sadly, this didn’t materialise whilst Andy was still alive because he became so poorly but we discussed it with him and he really liked the idea, so it seemed only right to complete it once he had passed.”

The charity spin event – opened by Sopers House owner Nigel Brunt – spanned seven-and-a-half hours and saw an army of 160 people take part in 15 30-minute sessions, which ran back-to-back to some of Andy’s favourite songs, including Spandau Ballet’s Gold and Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.

Charalambous, 45, said: “Andy would have been astounded by the amount of support people showed by turning up and giving it their all.

“He’d have been exceptionally proud of his mum, Eileen, who is 89 and cycled a mile, and his youngest daughter, Elyse, who’s 10 and managed six miles.”

The mum-of-three, who became part of Jones’ fitness community in 2011 and began working for him in 2021, added: “Andy was a one-of-a-kind. He didn’t sugarcoat anything and would tell you what he thought but he was also able to see beyond that to help you realise your potential.

“As my mentor, he allowed me to grow into the person I am today, but he was also a really good friend and I know he would have been so proud of everyone for what they did.”

To further support Andy’s fundraising efforts, Angela organised a Wear A Hat Day celebration with PowerFit Outdoors, the military fitness training group founded and owned by her dearly missed friend.

The event, which asks people to don their favourite hats, hold hat-themed events and make donations to help find a cure for brain tumours, has raised more than £2 million since being launched in 2010 and took place this year on Thursday 28 March.

As well as encouraging donations by offering members additional entries in an Easter prize draw she was running, Angela organised a Wear A Hat Day high-intensity interval training (HIIT) class.

She said: “Despite the strong winds, rain and darkness, I was determined members would be physically challenged but also enjoy the class. It was a complex routine of hat on, hat off, steal a hat, grab a hat, find your hat in the dark and a hat relay to finish.”

With cash donations made throughout these two events and money paid to a fundraising page Andy set up, more than £7,500 has been raised so far. This is enough to sponsor more than two days of research at any of Brain Tumour Research’s four Centres of Excellence, each day costing £2,740.

Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Andy was determined to finish this challenge and raise money to help future brain tumour patients, despite being in ill health. It’s a testament to his good character that so many people were willing to help him succeed, even if he wasn’t around to witness it.

“We’re really grateful to all involved and we will remember Andy as we continue our work to find a cure for this devastating disease, which kills more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer. Together we will find a cure.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.

To add to Andy’s fundraising tally, visit www.justgiving.com/page/andysvirtualcycle.


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