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Community comes together to get paralysed man to Pen y Fan summit

Friends and family of a man paralysed in a diving accident are coming together next month in an epic bid to get him to the summit of South Wales’s highest mountain.

Jon Hobbs and a team of 28 supporters will attempt to get up and down Pen y Fan on April 6 to raise money for Spinal Research – the UK’s leading charity funding research into function restoring treatments for paralysis after a spinal cord injury.

Life Changing Injury

Jon’s life changed in an instant when, aged just 22, he dived into a swimming pool on the first morning of a holiday with friends in Magaluf, Spain. The keen rugby player and trainee quantity surveyor broke his neck and was instantly paralysed from the chest down.

But from that moment in 2007 Jon, from Pontyclun, has been lifted by the support of friends and family who next month will help him achieve a bucket-list ambition to reach the summit of Pen y Fan.

“Not only did it flip my world upside down but it changed me and my life forever,” said Jon, now 39. “But, since my accident I’ve been blessed with peoples’ kindness and support, especially those in my local community.

“I have amazing friends – particularly from my local rugby club in Pontyclun – who have never treated me any differently and been there for me through thick and thin.

“Over the past 17 years I’ve tried to live as normal a life as possible. I’ve overcome many hurdles and built a great life so now I’d like to push myself outside my comfort zone to give something back and try to help others.”

Jon, has limited arm function and no wrist and hand movement, so will be in a specially adapted wheelchair made by his engineer brother Jamie for the epic challenge.

The Challenge

A team of 28 will work together to get Jon up and down the 2,900ft Welsh peak  – whatever the weather! With no brakes on the chair, negotiating the rocky route safely is going to be a huge challenge.

That team includes close friend Lloyd Collier who just six days later will travel to the Sahara to tackle the Marathon des Sables – again to raise money for Spinal Research.

The legendary race involves running 250km through the Sahara desert of Morocco over five days enduring average temperatures exceeding 40C.

Lloyd, originally from Pontyclun, is an emergency medicine consultant currently working in Australia. He said: “Spinal cord injury is an area of research close to my heart and that of my family and local community. Two very important people, my late uncle Alun and Jon, sustained spinal cord injuries in their 20s. 

“Despite this, they have both been inspirational figures of resilience in my life and I wanted to be with Jon when he makes the attempt to summit Pen-y-fan.”

Lloyd and fellow medic Louis Snellgrove from Leeds set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe by tandem bike in 2019 to raise funds for Spinal Research and the Brain Foundation.

Starting and finishing in Adelaide, they cycled through 23 countries including Russia, Mongolia, India, Spain and the US and covered over 29,000km in 283 days.

Jon added: “Lloyd may say I’m his inspiration but it’s completely the reverse. He has absolutely inspired me with all that he has achieved in life and the things he has already done to raise money for Spinal Research.

“I’m under no illusion how tough this challenge is going to be for me and everyone else. I’m praying the weather will be kind as because of my injury I really struggle with the cold but there is a real ‘can-do’ spirit in the group and we will do it.”

Every year 1,000 people in the UK and Ireland are paralysed due to spinal cord injury. Spinal Research is the UKs leading medical charity focused on the repair and restoration of the spinal cord with the goal of curing paralysis.

To support Jon in his Pen y Fan summit bid to to: www.gofundme.com/f/jon-hobbs-pen-y-fan-climb To support Lloyd in his Marathon des Sables challenge go to: www.justgiving.com/page/colliers-challenge

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