Triple Parkinson’s Charity Challenge for Sussex Residents: swim, cycle and hike

parkinsons support group swimmers

Swimming, cycling and hiking fundraiser to raise awareness

Beginning with a relay swim around the Isle of Wight in July and ending with a hike up Mount Snowdon in September, Peter Burns from Littlehampton, Allan Coe from Fontwell and Ben McEwen from Hove will be taking on these epic challenges as part of the Big Tri: a unique, triathlon-style event organised by fundraising and support group Positively Parkinson’s. Peter, Allan and Ben all live with the condition.

The Big Tri will involve a Big Swim, Big Bike and Big Hike, all to raise funds for the charity Cure Parkinson’s and awareness of the condition.

Diagnosed in 2017, Peter Burns co-founded Positively Parkinson’s with Neurological Physiotherapist Vicky Knight and was joined by Allan Coe with the aim of raising awareness of Parkinson’s as a condition and to face new challenges with a positive outlook.

Peter explained: “Parkinson’s is frequently associated with the physical symptoms of shakes, tremors and slowness, but often almost unrecognised is the mental symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Like an iceberg, it isn’t what you see on the surface but what is going on underneath which has the greatest impact.

“To find a cure for Parkinson’s is the future, which is the ultimate destination. However it is also important to support those living with the condition now, who are on that journey and to demonstrate what can be achieved with a positive mindset.”

This was illustrated in September 2021 when a team of 12 Positively Parkinson’s swimmers raised over £47,000 by swimming to the Isle of Wight across the Solent, one of the nation’s busiest shipping lanes.

Having swum to the Island, the 2023 Swim Challenge is to swim around the Isle of Wight. The team are aiming to begin the swim on 20th July, however this is weather dependent as they must ensure conditions are safe.

Swimming, and exercise in general, can be greatly beneficial in helping with the many symptoms of the condition and is practised regularly by the three team members.

Ben McEwan said: “I was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s in the late summer of 2021. Swimming has been a big help to my physical and mental wellbeing and I’m looking forward to being part of the challenge of swimming around the Isle of Wight.”

Positively Parkinson’s Big Tri Swim and Bike ride challenges

The Positively Parkinson’s Big Tri Swim comprises 10 swimmers from across the UK who have come together as a team to swim the 65 miles around the island in a relay. The swim is likely to take 24 to 36 hours with swimmers rotating every hour. The team is supported by Chloë McCardel, the World Record holder for 44 English Channel Solo Swims and her boat the Channel Queen. Vicky Knight said:

“Swimming around the Isle of Wight in a team relay is going to be a test of endurance and team spirit. Together we have created a community and it is great to be part of a new team with everyone playing their part and coming together to take on bigger challenges to raise awareness and funds for Cure Parkinson’s.”

The Positively Parkinson’s Big Tri Bike ride will be an immense physical and mental challenge. Jamie Snarski will be partnering Allan Coe as they cycle from John O’Groats to Land’s End, covering over 1,000 miles from one end of the country to the other.

Allan Coe, who is tackling all three of the Big Tri disciplines, explains how he copes with the mind over body challenge: “I’ve had to retrain the conscious positive side of my brain to communicate that I can cycle for an amount of time without stopping, rather than listening to the negative sub conscious side of my brain telling me my muscles are tired, and it’s time to stop.”

Finally, in September the entire team regroup for the Big Hike up Mount Snowdon where, at the summit, the Big Tri challenge will be complete. You can organise your own Big Tri challenge by visiting:

Cure Parkinson’s is extremely grateful to the Positively Parkinson’s team for organising this incredible challenge in support of our research. Helen Matthews, Deputy CEO, said: “Fundraising support is absolutely critical for the charity to enable us to achieve our goal. We aim to cure Parkinson’s and the only way we will do this is through the help of all our incredible supporters – it’s as simple as that!”

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