News

It’s World Diabetes Day

It’s World Diabetes Day today and our inspirational Bader Grant Recipient, Simon Heaps has been in touch to remind us to raise awareness of this condition with its many potential repercussions.

Simon, who has had Type 1 Diabetes since his late teens, knows only too well the long term dangers of this chronic disease.

Despite losing both legs as a result of having it, he is inspiring so many people by continuing to compete at Wheelchair Table Tennis with the ambition of becoming World Champion in next month’s Games. The way Simon has been playing, competing across the world as a self-funding athlete, and improving his rankings by consistently beating players higher ranked than himself, this is not a wild dream. Para-athlete, Simon, now 68, is inspiring both older people and those with physical impairments to realise that if you have a dream and work hard at it you can achieve pretty much anything. He embodies the Bader spirit and we are hugely proud of him. His motto:
Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it.
says it all.
We will be thinking of him when he competes in Thailand next month against the best disabled players in the world and wishing him the success he so deserves.

Press Release – It’s World Diabetes Day

68 year old Para Athlete Simon Heaps from Milford on Sea, Lymington will be representing Great Britain in the World Abilitysport Games in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand from 1st to 9th December . Simon who competes in Wheelchair Table Tennis Class 5 is Great Britain No 2, No 10 in Europe and currently 28 in the World Rankings and will be aiming to become World Champion in next months Games.
A bilateral amputee after losing both of his legs in the last 4 years due to long term Type 1  Diabetes  Simon found table tennis again from his hospital  bed,  following his first amputation , and his success in the last 2 years has been nothing short of phenomenal as he has won Medals for Great Britain, of all colours , across the globe.
Simon is a totally self funded athlete when representing Great Britain and the Douglas Bader Foundation is proud to be supporting Simon on this incredible journey.
To have Simon displaying the name of DBF on his Great Britain kit as he strives to beat some of the best disabled players in the World in Thailand next month should be inspirational to any other Para athletes as they set out on their International careers in their chosen Para sports.

This is even more poignant as November is World Diabetes Month and is sure to bring awareness to this disease. We wish Simon the greatest success in Thailand.

It's World Diabetes Day
DBF – Proud to be seen on Simon’s kit!

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Whose bag is this?

…and what does it signify?

We’re delighted to announce that LimbPower’s link to World Abilitysport has already benefited Wheelchair Table Tennis Player, Simon Heaps!

Whose bag is this? And what does it signify?

Following the recent great news that LimbPower has linked with World Abilitysport Simon was entered for the Games by LimbPower and with support from a Bader Grant, he will now be able to attend the Games when they are held in Thailand from 1st to 9th December. This is wonderful news for Simon, a self-funding athlete who, with funds rapidly running out, was looking at the sad prospect of having to abandon his hopes of playing in the World Championships. It would have been a tragedy as he has been doing phenomenally well, climbing steadily up the world rankings and beating top players along the way. And this despite having to have his second lower limb amputation in January last year.

Simon has been pursuing a punishing itinerary, travelling to competitions around the world in a bid to gain the points needed to enter the Championships. The cost of travel plus accommodation and living expenses involved in pursuing his dream is huge as you can imagine, and it is a mark of his absolute determination and dedication to his sport that he has got this far almost solely funding his own expenses.

The Games should be the largest gathering of disabled athletes ever, bigger even than the Paralympics. Simon Heaps

There are 11 sports featured with Table Tennis being one. Simon tells us that the Games were previously called the IWAS (International Wheelchair Amputee Sports Federation). This inspiring athlete will be GB’s only representative in Wheelchair Table Tennis. With his entry approved and ratified by British Para Table Tennis, Simon is all set to attend the Games and will no doubt be training every spare moment. It’s worth remembering that as well as being the only GB representative, Simon is also carrying the flag for the over-60’s. He’s the oldest player competing and has already shown many of the younger and higher ranked players he’s beaten that they write him off at their peril! It’s lovely to see an older player showing that it’s still possible not just to compete but to win at the top level.

He has already travelled extensively this year as you can see from previous posts by following the link at the bottom of this page, and his current itinerary means that he arrived in Argentina to compete on the 4th October. There he was again GB’s only player and with no coach or practice partner was literally carrying the GB flag on his own. As covered above, it’s Thailand in December hopefully followed by Costa Rica a week later after which he should be back just in time for Christmas! Simon certainly doesn’t let the grass grow under his wheels!

Simon’s aim is to be crowned World Champion in Thailand in December. He believes that based on his current form and his recent wins, this is entirely possible and we believe him…

Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it. (Simon Heaps’ Motto)

We are so proud of what this incredible athlete has accomplished since he first approached the DBF for a Bader Grant. He is an absolute star and it would be wonderful to see him return with a Gold Medal. We will be rooting for him and he is going to be keeping his fingers crossed too, of course. As he says:

I will keep my fingers crossed, no legs so nothing else to cross Simon Heaps

Whose bag is this?

The DBF logo proudly adorning Simon’s bag as we are proud to support his inspiring achievements.

We’ll keep you informed about Simon’s progress. Please join us in wishing him the success he deserves.


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Simon Heaps is adding to his medals

I’m delighted to report that our amazing Bader Grant Recipient, Wheelchair Table Tennis player Simon Heaps is adding to his medals tally.

Despite struggling to raise the funds to compete and nearing the bottom of his savings, this incredibly talented and determined athlete has managed to travel to several elite competitions and add to his already considerable tally of medals.

Simon’s results in 2023 to date

  •  2 x Bronze Medals in Saudi Arabia (August)
  • Silver Medal in USA (July)
  • Silver + Gold Medal in Jordan (June)

He is currently raising funds to compete in Argentina in October and then in Thailand in December in the World Ability Sport Games, where he will be attempting to be World Champion.

As you can imagine, all this travelling is hugely expensive. However, it is vital for athletes who are committed to attaining the rankings required to enable selection to compete at the highest level and represent your country. Simon has used his savings to compete as a self-funding athlete, which is testament to his total commitment and determination. Sadly though, as he says,

This will leave my cupboard bare and I still have another tournament to pay for, the Costa Rica Para Open a few days before Xmas. At the moment I cannot afford this event. Simon Heaps – Para Table Tennis Player

It would be desperately sad if Simon, competing not just as a double amputee but also as the oldest competitor on the circuit (speaking as no spring chicken myself, that in itself is worth supporting!), was unable to continue his hard-fought passage to the top.

He has the talent, he has the commitment, he has the guts. Can you help him to have the funds as well?

Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it. Simon Heaps’ Motto

Please contact Simon if you can support him or if you know anyone who might want to sponsor him. This inspiring man has everything it takes to get right to the top – it’d be such a shame if, despite all his heroic efforts, he’s unable to to see his journey through to its conclusion due to lack of funds. He’s so nearly there…

 

 

Simon Heaps is adding to his medal tally
Simon Heaps is adding to his medals with 2 Bronzes following his success in Saudi in August

 

Simon Heaps is adding to his medal tally
A Silver Medal won in the USA in July

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2023 Update from Simon Heaps

Following our 40th Anniversary last year, we made the decision to slightly shift the DBF focus to give more attention to the popular Bader Grant Scheme. Here, as promised in the previous grant recipient update, is the follow up: the 2023 Update from Simon Heaps.

We hope to encourage more people to apply for a Bader Grant, extend the reach of the scheme and support more people living with disabilities and challenges to reach personal goals. We will be running updates from various Bader Grant Recipients over the next few months and we hope that seeing the variety of goals that receiving a Bader Grant can help you to achieve will inspire you to get in touch to apply for a Bader Grant yourself…
Bader Grant recipient, Simon Heaps, a recent double amputee due to type 1 diabetes, excelled at table tennis as a young player but after a long break only took up the sport he loved again in his 60’s. After losing his right leg in 2019 to Type 1 Diabetes, he discovered that he not only still loved playing but that, with the necessary adjustments to his game (such as remembering to keep the chair still while he hit the ball!) it was possible to play from a wheelchair. Since then he has gone from strength to strength in the sport and didn’t let the amputation of his left leg at the beginning of last year impede his progress up the rankings. He is now competing against the best players in the world in Wheelchair Table Tennis and winning. This would be an incredible achievement by anyone in the circumstances but the fact that Simon is now 67 and always the oldest player in the tournament makes it inspirational in every way.
We are so proud of what Bader Grant Recipient, Simon, has achieved and have been honoured to support him on his quest, which we believe can take him right to the top of his sport. Read on for the 2023 update from this totally committed athlete in his own words:

2023 Update from Simon Heaps

2023 Update from Simon Heaps

I strive not to let anybody down and hope that Sir Douglas Bader would of been proud of my efforts in the face of adversity

Following on from a very successful 2022 where the year started badly with losing my 2nd leg on Jan 13th, to May where I won my first ever International Para Medal in Jordan it then continued as I won multiple Medals of all colours in Mexico , Italy, Argentina , Greece, Brazil and Costa Rica. The highlight being crowned the first European Veteran (over 40 ) Para Wheelchair Champion in Rimini , Italy.
I ended the year as GB No  2, World No 30 and Europes 12th highest player in my Class.
2023 started with me being officially a bilateral amputee (due to Type 1 Diabetes) and I started the year strongly by gaining my best win, beating the World No 11, from Egypt, on his own soil to silence the home fans and gaining a Bronze Medal in the seasons first event in Cairo.
Very strong tournaments followed in Spain and Italy before I got back on the Medal trail again  by gaining Bronze in Greece.
Next up is Jordan at the end of May, followed by USA and Costa Rica back to back in July and then Saudia Arabia in August.
I am hopeful in being selected by Grrat Britain for the European Para Table Tennis Championships in Sheffield in September and then I will be competing in the IWAS ( International Wheelchair Amputee Sports Federation ) World Games in Thailand where I aim to be World  Champion Amputee Wheelchair player !!
All of these events are on a self funding basis when I represent Great Britain around the World and are very expensive when accounting for entries, travel and accommodation. I rely solely on Charitable Grants and I am so grateful to The Douglas Bader Foundation for awarding me to become a Grant Recipient and the award has really helped me train and compete around the world in a sport that I love since I lost both of my legs, along with raffles, small sponsorships and donations.
I have a secure Go Fund Me Page where donations can be made. Details and a link can be found at the bottom of this post.
I respond personally to every person who makes a donation as I am so grateful.
I strive not to let anybody down and hope that Sir Douglas Bader would of been proud of my efforts in the face of adversity and also the many Medals that I have won around the world whilst competing for my country in the last 12 months.
Possibly something that is even more astonishing is that I am at the ripe old age of 67 yrs of age !!, and always the oldest player in the tournament every time. As the saying goes “ There is life left in the old dog yet
Please click on the image below to watch the BBC Interview with Simon which clarifies the impact his financial difficulties will have on his career…
2023 update from Simon Heaps
Below are some photographs taken at recent tournaments. It would be such a shame if this very gifted player, an inspiration to people with disabilities and non-disabled, and old and young alike had to give up the sport at which he excels and at which he has a very real chance of reaching the top as the result of lack of funds. Simon has so far competed as a self-funding athlete with the help of  personal fund-raising events, grants from DBF and some other charities and kind donations. As you’ll see from this 2023 update from Simon Heaps, this could be the year he achieves his goal. But – he will need financial support to do that. Please donate to his fundraising page (link below) or get in touch with him if you’d like to act as a sponsor, would like more information or to talk to him personally.
We have every faith that any support will be rewarded by seeing this inspirational man, a double amputee and the oldest player on the circuit, reach the top of his sport and strike a blow for all people living with disabilities and those who won’t see 60 again!
Please do help Simon to achieve his goal if you can. All donations are so gratefully received.
2023 Update from Simon Heaps
2023 Update from Simon Heaps
2023 Update from Simon Heaps

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Simon Heaps deserves support

Simon Heaps deserves support. This double amputee wheelchair table tennis player is in danger of having to stop playing due to lack of funds. This would be an absolute tragedy as, at 67, he is playing better than ever and has managed to get into the top 30 in the World Rankings, a phenomenal achievement especially as he only lost his second leg to diabetes last year.

This incredibly gifted and determined athlete had an extraordinary year last year as you’ll see from previous posts on the website. He travelled to no less than 11 countries to compete winning an amazing 8 medals in the process to secure himself a place in the top 30.

Simon is a totally self-funded athlete and, as you can imagine, travel (much of it long distance), accommodation and other living expenses is not cheap. His dedication is such that he has spent tens of thousands of pounds of his own money to compete so far. He has raised considerable amounts himself through his own efforts and we were delighted to support him through our Bader Grants Scheme. Now, however, he’s in grave danger of running out of funds and being unable to continue his courageous journey to the top. He has started a new GoFundMe Page hoping it will enable him to continue to compete in the game he loves and that has helped to give him the will and determination to continue when beset with challenges. I believe it would be a very sad day and a tragic waste of all he has achieved so far if he had to hang up his bat! Apart from anything else, I admire him enormously for striking a blow for the over-60s when so many people write us off. He has certainly been able to show younger players that when you have the skill and the fighting spirit – and he has that in spades – age really is just a number.

Simon Heaps is a true inspiration. Please donate if you can to this brave and utterly dedicated athlete so that he can compete for another year and build on what he has achieved so far. Let’s see how far up the rankings he can get!

Simon’s motto is

Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it. Simon Heaps

Let’s help him to achieve it…

You’ll find the link to his GoFundMe Page at the bottom of this post beneath the video of Simon being interviewed on BBC South Sport on 17th January 2023.

 


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Simon Heaps up the medals!

Simon Heaps up the medals!
Simon Heaps up the medals, sporting the most recent Gold and Silver won in Costa Rica.

Wheelchair Table Tennis Player, Simon Heaps, has finished his extraordinary competitive year in great style in San José, Costa Rica, winning a Silver Medal in the Singles Class 4/5 and a Gold Medal in the Doubles Class MD8 with his French partner.

It’s less than a year since Simon lost his second leg to diabetes and, at age 67, he is competing as the oldest player on the circuit so these victories represent amazing strength of character and determination.  During the year he has travelled to no less than 11 countries winning 8 medals in the process. He is a huge talent and has the fighting spirit to take him right to the top.

As you can imagine, pursuing this dream with the travelling and related accommodation costs is extremely expensive and Simon, having got this far, is in danger of running out of funds. He is desperately looking for a sponsor or backing of some kind though you can be assured he will also be continuing to raise funds himself as he has done so staunchly in the past.

As Simon Heaps up the medals, it would be a tragedy if he couldn’t reach his personal goal after such heroic efforts in his successful climb up this very competitive ladder. If you would like to support him you can donate through his fundraising page or, if you’d like to sponsor him or suggest someone who might, please contact him personally. Any help will be very gratefully received.

We have been delighted to have been able to help him on his journey through our Bader Grant Scheme and he has proven himself not just to have the will to succeed but also the talent and determination to make it right to the top. We are also immensely proud to have supported him; he has the Bader spirit in spades and we have no doubt that Sir Douglas would have been cheering him all the way. If you can, please do help this inspiring man who is also striking a blow for the oldies by showing players far younger than him that in sport you write us off at your peril! You will be sure to enjoy the journey with him!

Simon Heaps up the medals
Receiving the Gold Medal for Doubles Class MD8 with his French partner.

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October Update from Simon Heaps

An October Update from Simon Heaps, our heroic Wheelchair Table Tennis Grant Recipient!

Simon, who is a totally self-funding athlete, is determinedly fighting his way to the top of his sport. He started on this journey with the goal of representing his country and winning a medal at his sport as a single amputee and is now continuing, barely 2 years later as a double amputee. This shows such strength of character – a very worthy grant recipient with Sir Douglas’s indomitable spirit in spades.

Since starting on his competitive path, he has travelled extensively to enter qualifying tournaments across the world and has been steadily climbing up the rankings. Immediately after contacting us he was due to leave Greece where he had added another Bronze Medal to his rapidly increasing tally. This result should take him into the top 30 in the World Rankings, which is a huge achievement in such a short time.

Since his second amputation, which was on January 13th – less than one year ago! – he has travelled to:

  • Germany (twice)
  • France
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Mexico
  • Italy
  • Argentina
  • Thailand and
  • Greece
  • and leaves for Brazil today…

In his last six tournaments he has won:

  • Bronze in Jordan
  • Silver and Gold in Mexico
  • Silver in Argentina
  • Gold and European Champion in Italy and
  • Bronze in Greece

A phenomenal effort. In achieving these results, he has competed against some of the best players in the world. In the last 2 tournaments he lost 3-2 to the World #8 and #10 and was a fraction away from beating both. In Greece he lost 3-1 to his GB teammate who is #4 in the world in a match that was close enough to prove that he can compete with the best.

This is fantastic news and we really couldn’t be more proud of Simon, who, at 67, is also competing as the oldest Wheelchair Table Tennis player and showing much younger players that with the right attitude and fighting spirit (and not a little talent!) age really can be just a number in sport. He certainly bears out his own motto:

Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it. Wheelchair Table Tennis Player, Simon Heaps

There is unfortunately bad news too. For a self-funding athlete, the costs of all the travel and necessary expenses, however frugal you are, are enormous and Simon has already paid out 10s of thousands of pounds in the bid to represent his country. He has held his own fundraising events to help and had help from charities including the DBF who believe in his ability and want to support him as he fights to reach his goal. However, despite this input the expenses involved in playing at this level have almost totally exhausted his fundraising account. There are 2 more tournaments he would love to enter this year to take him closer to the top: Costa Rica and Nigeria in December. Funding those two alone will cost him about £5,000!

We are a small charity with limited funds and are anyway restricted as to how much we are able to give to individual applicants but it seems to me that it would be an absolute tragedy if Simon was unable to continue to compete after all he’s achieved and the inspiration he’s giving to Wheelchair Table Tennis competitors, competitors with disabilities generally and to older players in particular. Simon himself is too busy competing to put on more fundraising events at the moment and those raise only a fraction of what he needs to support himself and his sport. His last fundraising event – a skydive no less, hugely courageous for a double amputee! – was to raise funds for another worthy cause, the Pilgrim Bandits (see link below). He has tried everything and this is a man who doesn’t give up! It seems that his last hope might be to find a sponsor; somebody who would love to see this incredibly gutsy and committed athlete reach his goal and would be prepared to help him.

Sponsorship

This October Update from Simon Heaps shows just how much he has achieved towards reaching his goal of being top of his sport of Wheelchair Table Tennis and just how hard he is prepared to work to get there. If you feel that you could be a sponsor for Simon or know others who might be interested, please contact either the DBF direct and we will put you in touch with Simon, or contact him direct using the link at the bottom of this post. Equally, he’d love to hear from anyone with ideas or suggestions as to how he might be able to proceed. It would be wonderful to see how far he could take his talent as a double amputee and he truly does deserve this support.

October Update from Simon Heaps


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Simon Heaps’ sky dive for Pilgrim Bandits

Simon Heaps’ sky dive for Pilgrim Bandits has raised a fantastic £1,000. Congratulations, Simon!

Wheelchair Table Tennis player, Simon Heaps, undertook a new challenge over the weekend. 2 days after his 67th birthday, Simon, a double amputee, successfully completed a tandem sky dive to raise funds for Pilgrim Bandits.

In Simon’s words, “This charity supports ex-service men and women who are injured or needy and who put their lives on the line to defend this great country of ours.” As he said before his jump:

I must be mad but going out of my comfort zone will be good for me and hopefully raise much needed funds for the Charity. Simon Heaps

Personally I think he may be a little mad too as I can’t think of much more terrifying than jumping out of an aeroplane into…air. The fact that Simon is a recent double amputee and would obviously have to leave his prosthetic legs on the aeroplane while in the air, leaving him vulnerable on landing, adds to his incredible courage in making this jump. And the faith of his instructor too, who had never jumped before with a double amputee!

Simon Heaps' sky dive for Pilgrim Bandits
Moment of courage

What impresses me is that Simon, who is currently incredibly busy travelling to tournaments to get the rankings he needs to be selected to compete in his sport of Wheelchair Table Tennis, and desperately trying to raise money to fund his competing, found time to raise considerable funds – over £1000 – for another charity.

As you will see from the interview in the film below, Simon confesses to being a little nervous but mainly excited before the jump. He reports that the experience was incredibly exhilarating and he had a soft landing as, in a perfectly planned and choreographed move, the instructor landed first sliding his legs under Simon to cushion any potential blow on Simon’s stumps! What a hero!

 

 

This video still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end when I see it! 

There is no doubt that Simon Heaps’ sky dive for Pilgrim Bandits took huge courage. Our heartfelt congratulations to him on this generous and altruistic challenge for such a worthy cause. We are so proud to be associated with Simon and delighted to have been able to support him in his own challenge to win a gold medal in Wheelchair Table Tennis. He is getting ever closer…

If you’d like to find out more about the Pilgrim Bandits and support them or Simon’s own activities – being a self funding athlete is a very expensive business – please check out the links at the bottom of this post.


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To contact Simon personally (he would be happy to tell you more about his story):

 

Wheelchair Table Tennis player Simon Heaps

Bader Grant Recipient, Wheelchair Table Tennis player Simon Heaps has been competing around the world to raise his world rankings to qualify him to represent Team GB.

Simon was 64 and had very recently lost his leg as a result of diabetes when he determined to become the best Wheelchair Amputee Table Tennis player in the world. A thoroughly committed and talented athlete, he was making great progress when, very sadly, he had to have his other leg amputated. Simon is a true fighter with the Bader spirit in spades and, undaunted, he was soon back in his specially adapted wheelchair and competing again.

Dream it, Believe it, Achieve it –  Simon Heaps

Since then he has been climbing up the rankings and recent successes include a Silver Medal in the Singles at the Copa Tango Para Open in Buenos Aires, Argentina…

Wheelchair Table Tennis player Simon Heaps

This was followed by a Gold Medal and the title of European Veterans (over 40’s) Para Wheelchair Champion in Rimini, Italy…

Then, Silver in Singles at Copa Christina Hoffman Para Open in Cancun, Mexico…

Wheelchair Table Tennis player Simon Heaps

Followed by Gold in Mixed Doubles at the same event…

This represents a phenomenal achievement, especially as Simon is now almost 67 and the oldest player competing at this level. He has also funded every aspect of these competitions himself.

Here, in Simon’s own words, is recent news from the world of Wheelchair Table tennis, a resumé of the whirlwind of his past few months competing, and information about his own funding and his latest fundraising venture which is not for himself but for a Military Charity. For this, he will do a Sky Dive… As he says, he must be mad to jump out of a plane as a double amputee but that’s Simon!

“New World Rankings go live today and I will have gone up after my results in Mexico and Argentina and it will also cement my position as GB No. 2 in World Rankings. I am 67 on the 17th August.

Also just came back from Thailand where although I did not do well I actually had match point against World No. 12 but could not convert it sadly. It would have been my best win ever but proves that I deserve to play against the best.

I have tournaments in Saudi Arabia and Greece in September; Brazil in October and Costa Rica in December. Sadly my fundraising account is empty and I desperately need to raise funds to enable me to play in any of these events. I anticipate I need to raise approximately £10,000 to cover these tournaments and ongoing coaching and equipment costs.

My turn to give back, so on the 19th August, 2 days after my 67th birthday, I am doing a Sky Dive to raise funds, not for myself but for a great charity called Pilgrim Bandits that support ex service men and women who are injured or needy and put their lives on the line to defend this great country of ours. I must be mad but going out of my comfort zone will be good for me and hopefully raise much needed funds for the Charity.”  (Simon Heaps)

If you’d like to donate to Simon’s heroic effort on behalf of the Pilgrim Bandits, please visit his JustGiving Page. He would be extremely grateful for any donation whatever the amount. The link is at the bottom of this post. You will also find a link to their website where you can learn more about this wonderful charity.

If you’d like to support Wheelchair Table Tennis Player Simon Heaps himself so that this ambitious, dedicated and courageous man can see just how far his huge talent can take him (and strike a blow for the over 60’s at the same time!), please donate to his GoFundMe page or contact him personally for more information. It would be a tragedy in my opinion if, after years of supporting himself financially through his own fundraising efforts, he was forced to stop competing when he’s getting so near to reaching his goal. The link is at the bottom of this post and Simon would be hugely grateful for any donations.

Simon is an inspiration to the young and not so young alike. Please do support him if you can.


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To contact Simon personally (he would be happy to tell you more about his story):