Penarth schoolboy takes on impressive challenge in memory of much-loved grandfather

A 13-year-old schoolboy from Penarth is taking on an impressive challenge in memory of his much-loved grandfather, fundraising for lifesaving heart research as part of his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh (D of E) Award.

Martin Gilbert, a former geography teacher, deputy head teacher and schools adviser, passed away in May 2021, having suffered with heart failure, a condition where the heart is less able to pump blood around the body, as well as underlying health issues including a lung condition.

Inspired by Martin, who had enjoyed physical activities when he was well, Arthur Gilbert, decided to run 242 km, approximately 150 miles, the distance between Cardiff Castle and Buckingham Palace, over three months. The keen athlete is asking for sponsors to donate to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) in Martin’s memory via his JustGiving page.

The BHF funds research into potential treatments to improve the lives of people with heart failure, including regenerative medicine, an area of research that has the potential to revolutionise the care of patients with heart and circulatory disease, especially after life-threatening events such as a heart attack.

Arthur said: “Heart failure made the last couple of years really tough for my grandpa and grandma. My grandpa struggled a lot with his breathing because of his heart and my grandma had to care for him, which was a lot of work for her. He would often pass out and my grandma wasn’t able to help him up on her own. It was sad to see my grandpa, who used to love rock climbing, caving, and travelling, not be able to do these things anymore.”

Arthur added: “I decided to sign up to the D of E Award because I’ve always been motivated and driven to do what I think is best, and I believe that the D of E Award is the perfect opportunity for this.”

Sports enthusiast Arthur enjoys playing rugby, football, and tennis for his local clubs, but he’s taken his love of sports to a new level by setting himself the mega fundraising challenge, which he’s also had to juggle with his other activities and schoolwork.

He’s used his grandfather’s memory as inspiration to power him through the pain barrier, and any obstacles he’s faced, from managing his revision timetable and dealing with a plantar fasciitis heel injury.

He said: “I’ve run through rain, sun, cloud, and cold and I feel like it’s boosted my resilience and persistence in challenges.

“I worked out that to run 242 km over the three-month D of E challenge period, I would have to run an average of 3km a day. I’ve tried to stick to that and then run a bit further some days to make up for any days I’ve had to miss.

“These past few months I’ve experienced ups, downs, and injuries. But I’m determined to finish the challenge and have been throughout.” Arthur says that he’s on track to finish his challenge ahead of time, in mid-December. Having raised £800 already, he’s keen to hit his fundraising target of £1,000 for the BHF.

Arthur reflects on the highlights from his fundraising so far, sharing that the challenge has allowed him to develop new skills and to build his resilience and sense of determination. He continues: “It’s a great experience that will benefit you mentally and physically and with your general morale in feeling that you’re doing good for others.”

Arthur’s mother Natalie said: “When he was choosing what to do for the volunteering element of his D of E award Arthur didn’t want to just do as much as was needed to pass, he wanted to take something on that would really make a difference and achieve something. He has certainly done that.

“He has been out in all weathers and with injuries and has done it all with a positive attitude and determination. Our friends, family and neighbours have really got behind him and he is on course to raise a fantastic amount for BHF, but he also been great at motivating himself to keep going, we couldn’t be any prouder of him.”

Head of BHF Cymru Rhodri Thomas said: “We are so grateful to Arthur for choosing to volunteer with the BHF and a huge well done for all the fabulous fundraising so far. We wish Arthur the very best of luck for the remainder of the challenge.”

The BHF is an Approved Activity Provider for the volunteering section of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. You can find out more information about volunteering for the BHF as part of your Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at www.bhf.org.uk/dofe To donate to Arthur’s fundraiser, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/arthur-gilbert

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